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Sen. Graham blasts Trump for praising Assange, doubting U.S. intelligence agencies

U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., foreground right, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, left, speak to the media at the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Krtsanisi, just outside Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday. (Shakh Aivazov / Associated Press)
U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., foreground right, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, left, speak to the media at the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre in Krtsanisi, just outside Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday. (Shakh Aivazov / Associated Press)
By Eric Garcia Tribune News Service

WASHINGTON – Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Wednesday criticized President-elect Donald Trump for praising Julian Assange while expressing skepticism of Russian hacking.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday, citing an interview the Wikileaks founder did with Fox News on Tuesday saying a “14 year old” could have hacked into the email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.

Trump also cited Assange’s assertion that he didn’t get any information from that hack and others of Democratic officials from the Russians.

Asked on CNN about Trump appearing to take the side of the Wikileaks founder over that of the U.S. intelligence community, Graham said, “It’s very disturbing, quite frankly.”

Graham said he encouraged the president to be “doubtful” about Assange, and ask some “hard questions” in an intelligence briefing the president-elect is scheduled to get on Friday.

In an interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity, Assange said the outgoing Obama administration is focusing on the hacking in an attempt to delegitimize the incoming Trump administration.

“I hope no American will be duped by him,” Graham said. “Look at his record in terms of how he treats our country.”

Graham also said that if Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, did not accept that Russia hacked into Democratic National Committee emails and those of Hillary Clinton adviser John Podesta, he would have a hard time voting for him.

“If a nominee for a critical job doesn’t understand what the Russians are up to, I’ll have a hard time believing they are good at their job,” he said.

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