By Alicia Cohn - 07-09-17 09:59 AM EDT
A senior Senate Republican on Sunday said President Trump's plan to work with Russia on cybersecurity is "pretty close" to the "dumbest idea I've ever heard."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called Trump's Friday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin "disastrous" and said the president has a "blind spot" on Russia.
"When it comes to Russia I am dumbfounded, I am disappointed, and at the end of the day he's hurting his presidency by not embracing the fact that Putin is a bad guy," Graham said on NBC News's "Meet the Press."
"He is literally the only person I know of who doesn't believe Russia attacked our election in 2016," Graham said of Trump, who has said that "nobody really knows" whether the Russians were behind attempts to hack the 2016 presidential election.
Graham stressed that there is no evidence the Russian meddling influenced the vote, but he said that by denying the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump "throws our intelligence communities under the bus."
Trump on Sunday tweeted about working with the Russians, writing, "it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!"
He also said only four intelligence agencies have concluded Russia meddled in the election. Those agencies are the CIA, the National Security Agency, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I've already given my opinion.....- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
...We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives. Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
Putin & I discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded..- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017
Graham slammed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump for being "ready to forgive and forget" when it comes to Russian attacks on the 2016 presidential election.
"This whole idea about moving forward without punishing Russia is undermining his entire presidency," he said. Graham is pushing for increased sanctions on Russia. The Senate passed such a bill, but it is currently delayed in the House. Reports have indicated the White House wants to soften the language.
"The more you do this, the more people are suspicious about you and Russia," Graham warned Trump. "I am intent on punishing the Russians for interfering in our election."