WASHINGTON ― Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he’s planning to use his authority as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate what he called “disturbing” FBI actions over the Hillary Clinton email probe and the origins of the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
Graham, one of President Donald Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill, also said he wants Attorney General William Barr to appoint another special counsel to look into the matter.
“If no one else cares, it seems to be Republicans do,” Graham said at a Monday press conference. “I will be doing oversight to try to put this puzzle together.”
Mueller’s investigation ended last week with no evidence of collusion found between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, according to a summary of the probe provided by Barr to Congress over the weekend. The attorney general also exonerated the president of attempting to obstruct justice in the investigation into Russia’s role in the election — a question Mueller declined to weigh in on.
Democrats are calling on Barr to testify about how he reached his conclusion on the question of potential obstruction of justice by the president, and they have called for the public release of the full Mueller report. Graham agreed Monday on both points.
But he’s also likely to call up Department of Justice officials before his committee to probe other matters, such as the FBI’s decision to surveil a Trump campaign member, Carter Page, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the bureau’s reliance on the Steele dossier, an unverified intelligence document that contained a number of dubious claims about the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia.
“What makes no sense to me is that all the abuse by the Department of Justice and the FBI, the unprofessional conduct, the shady behavior — nobody seems to think that’s much important,” Graham said, alleging that a “double standard” existed to how federal investigators approached Clinton and Trump.
Graham suggested he would also seek to re-examine the Clinton email probe, former FBI Director Jim Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s decision to recuse herself from the matter.
“Why did Comey do what he did? Why did he take over the investigation in July, make a statement that [Clinton] did a lot of bad things but not quite a crime? That did affect this election,” Graham added.
Democrats, meanwhile, said they were a bit perplexed by the idea of a special counsel investigation into the Clinton email probe.
“I don’t understand that. ... It’s a bit of a cipher to me,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters on Monday.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said, “Seriously?” several times and doubled over in laughter when asked about Graham’s comments.
“I can’t believe this is my job,” Coons added.
This story has been updated to include comments from Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Chris Coons.