Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) joined CNN’s Dana Bash for a joint town hall style event on Wednesday. All three pushed the narrative of 2016’s presidential election having been interfered with by the Russian government.
Asked by Bash to comment on Tuesday’s presidential address to Congress, McCain claimed that Russia sought to “change” 2016’s presidential election:
“I would’ve liked to have heard a lot more about Russia. Russia is the country that tried to change the elections in the United States. I don’t think they succeeded. Right now, they’re affecting or trying to affect the elections in March.”
Asked by an Arizona resident about foreign “interference” in 2016’s presidential election, McCain again pushed the narrative of its potential compromise as a result of malevolent Russian state machinations:
“We’re looking into certain military aspects of [foreign interference in the electoral process or the government] . I have argued that because of the gravity of the situation, if the Russians had succeeded in determining the outcome of our election, that is a deathblow to democracy, and so i believe that we needed a select committee in order to investigate that.
But have no doubt, what the Russians tried to do to our election could have destroyed democracy, and that’s why we’ve got to pay a hell of a lot more attention to the Russians and the things that they’re doing in Europe, and right now they’re trying to affect the outcome of the French election, and they’re using cyber, which by the way brings up cyber, and we are way behind in cyber.”
Bash furthered the narrative, asserting that “intelligence agencies… say they’re confident that Russia tried to meddle in US elections.” She then implied that Congress should investigate allegations of “discussion [or] collusion.. between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”
Graham accepted the premise that Russia was responsible for hacking into the email accounts of Clinton family loyalist and former chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee (DNC):
“I wanna know what happened between the Trump campaign, the Clinton campaign, and the Russians. To my Republican friends, we should have no joy in our heart that the Russian efforts hurt Hillary Clinton, even though they didn’t change the outcome [of 2016’s presidential election]. I promise you, we could be next… If there were campaign contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign, I wanna know about them.”
Subtext of the aforementioned narrative of “Russian election hacking” includes the assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed Russian state apparatuses in 2016 to breach the email accounts of the DNC and Podesta. Also implied is that emails from the DNC and Podesta were leaked in a deliberate manner to deliver maximum political damage to Clinton’s campaign, with Putin supposedly having developed a preference for Trump.
More recently, left-wing and Democrat-aligned news media outlets are implying via innuendo that Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russian government towards the aforementioned and unsubstantiated narrative. In other words, Democrats and their news media allies allege that 2016’s presidential election was subverted by a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.