Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Monday that, now that the special counsel’s Russia investigation had wrapped up, his committee would be going full speed ahead in investigating the Justice Department for how it handled the Clinton email probe as well as for the warrants it obtained to surveil a former Trump campaign advisor in 2016.
At a press conference on Capitol Hill, Graham said he was satisfied with Attorney General Bill Barr’s assessment that there was not sufficient evidence to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice, and that his committee would not be relitigating that question based on what further information Congress receives from the Mueller report.
Graham said he was planning on speaking to Barr at noon Monday, and that he would ask Barr to appoint a second special counsel. Graham wants a special counsel to investigate how the FBI obtained surveillance warrants for ex-Trump advisor Carter Page and whether it made inappropriate political decisions based on a dossier indirectly financed by the Clinton campaign.
“What makes no sense to me is all of the abuse by the Department of Justice and the FBI — the unprofessional conduct, the shady behavior — nobody seems to thinks that’s much important,” Graham “Well, that’s going to change I hope.”
The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General released a report on the department’s handling of the Clinton email matter is also currently probing the Page warrants. In 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions assigned a U.S. attorney to look at the allegations about the Page warrant, and other anti-DOJ and anti-Clinton claims raised by congressional Republicans.
Additionally, House Republicans — when they held the gavel in the lower chamber — did extensive investigations into all of those matters. Graham admitted to reporters after his press conference that he wasn’t fully aware of what ground the House Intelligence Committee had already covered in its Page warrant investigation.
“I am going to get as much of it as I can so I don’t burden people,” Graham said. “I really am pretty much in the dark about what they did. I want to know how much of the dossier led to the warrant being issued.”
Graham has become one of Trump’s most vocal cheerleaders in the Congress, and was even with Trump this weekend while the President waited for Barr to submit to Congress a summary of Mueller’s report. But Graham was also supportive of Mueller’s appointment and was happy with the job Mueller did.
“I’d like to find somebody like a Mr. Mueller that would look into what happened with the FISA warrant, what happened with the counterintelligence investigation,” Graham said, while indicating his own committee plans to talk to the people who have come up in GOP accusations of Justice Department impropriety.
As for how the Justice Department is handling the Mueller report, Democratic lawmakers have questioned Barr’s decision to come to the judgment that Mueller had not found sufficient evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. Mueller himself had declined to come to a traditional prosecutorial decision, Barr said in summary Sunday.
Graham, however, said that he did not see a possibility for his committee to second-guess Barr’s obstruction decision.
“The Judiciary’s goal is to provide oversight to watch those who watch us. I am not into the prosecuting business.”
Graham in his scrum with reporters revealed that he had spoken to Trump about the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whom Trump has repeatedly attacked.
Graham said that “the dossier thing really got Trump going,” referring to the belief that some media outlets got copies of the dossier from McCain aides.
Graham said that while McCain’s staff may have been spreading word of the dossier to the press, he had no reason to believe the McCain himself had leaked it.
“He talked to me as soon as he got it, turned it over to the FBI, which is exactly what he should have done,” Graham said.