Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) again broke with president Donald Trump to assert Russia, and not Ukraine, meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

"It was the Russians. I'm 1,000 percent confident that the hack of the DNC was by Russian operatives. No one else," declared Graham, who retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2015 as a Colonel after 33 years of meritorious service.

In a later interview with CNN, Graham again said he's "got no doubt that it was the Russians who stole the DNC emails. It wasn't Ukraine. Russia was behind the stolen DNC emails and (John) Podesta and all that good stuff."

"So as to the Ukraine, they had zero to do with the hacking of the DNC and the stealing of the emails. Whether or not people from the Ukraine met with DNC operatives, I don't know. All I've seen is press reports that no one has validated."

Graham has a record of disagreeing with Trump on military and intelligence issues, and usually sides with the military and the United States Intelligence Community (USIC) on national security concerns.

Graham's antipathy towards Russia runs deep. In May 2017, a mere four months after Trump's inauguration as president, Graham said the only way for the U.S. to move on after the 2016 election is to take retaliatory action against Russia for its interference in the presidential election.

"I do not believe we can go forward as a nation until we punish Russia," he said during an interview on NBC. Graham said he was sure Russia had meddled in the election.

"I'm 1,000 percent certain that the Russians interfered in our election," he asserted. "They did try to undercut Clinton. I don't think they changed the outcome. But they sure as hell tried and I want to punish the Russians and I hope the president will see their interference as a threat to our democracy."

USIC has long told Republican lawmakers Russia has been engaging in a years-long effort to blame Ukraine and not Russia for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election. To Graham's dismay, this false narrative is now being championed by his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate as they strive to defend Trump against impeachment.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the US will use sanctions to drive Turkey out of Syria
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the US will use sanctions to drive Turkey out of Syria GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Allison Shelley

That Republicans were witting tools of Russian intelligence was revealed by Dr. Fiona Hill, a former official at the U.S. National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs, who testified at the House's Trump's impeachment hearings in November.

Dr. Hill blasted Republicans for boosting Russian propaganda efforts to undermine American democracy.

“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country -- and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” said Hill. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Some Republicans on the House intelligence committee are championing a discredited conspiracy theory (also embraced by Trump) that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. They also claim Ukraine hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and computer records were falsified to blame Russia.