Graham: 'Fake news' to say Russia did not meddle in US election

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Supreme Court fight in the spotlight Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Defense: House passes 5B defense spending bill | Pentagon moving forward on Trump military parade | Mattis vows 'ironclad' support for South Korea's defense MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday said it is “fake news” to say that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

“The idea that Russia did not meddle in our election is fake news,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“They did meddle in our election and they're doing it again in 2018,” he added.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpScaramucci warns Trump must 'change tactics now' on trade Trump sought to purchase historic Scottish building for hotel: report Republican wins right to replace Farenthold in Congress MORE said on Friday that he will press Russian President Vladimir Putin on Moscow's meddling during their meeting later this month.

“We don’t want anyone tampering with elections," Trump said, promising Russia’s interference in U.S. elections will be on the summit’s agenda.

Trump has previously denied that Russia influenced the 2016 election, despite an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies confirming some degree of interference.  

As recently as Thursday, Trump tweeted that Moscow says it did not interfere.

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!" Trump tweeted. "Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey says most Republicans don’t talk to him anymore: ‘I’ve succeeded in pissing off everyone’ If Rod Rosenstein feels conflicted, he should simply recuse himself Trump says he will bring up election interference with Putin MORE and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!"

Trump and Putin are slated to meet July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, at the end of Trump's scheduled trip to Europe to attend a summit with NATO allies and stop in the United Kingdom.

Critics say Trump's summit with Putin is ill-advised, considering special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE is currently conducting an investigation into Russia’s interference in the election.

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Wednesday argued that such criticism is “complete nonsense.”

"The president determined that, despite the political noise in the U.S., direct communication between him and President Putin was in the interest of the United States, in the interest of Russia, and in the interest of peace and security around the world,” Bolton said.

On “Meet the Press,” Graham said he supports the meeting but hopes Trump will come out strongly against Russia’s actions.

“I would urge President Trump work with Russia in Syria,” Graham said. “We have to deal with Russia. They're a power throughout the world. But let Putin know that what he did in the past is unacceptable.”

“Most importantly, if you continue to undermine our democracy and others, you're going to pay a heavy price,” Graham added. “If Putin doesn't understand that after this summit, then we've made, then we’ve made a big mistake.”

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