Top Senate Republican Targets Obama, Vows Probe Into ‘Old Scandals’
In a last-ditch effort to distract from the endless investigations into the web of corruption in the Trump administration, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the newly minted Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has vowed to launch a probe into “Obama-era scandals.”
Graham, a close ally of President Trump’s, has outlined several areas he wants to probe now that he has the Judiciary Committee gavel.
They include the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the FISA warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
The move has sparked new tensions on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), asked about Graham’s plans, started laughing and compared it to the “thrilling days of yesteryear.”
“This is going to be like the History Channel it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton,” Durbin told The Hill.
Durbin said he “concerned” about Graham’s plans but quipped that “you know there is that question about Jimmy Carter which he probably wants to ask.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), another member of the panel, said maybe Graham should “investigate Benghazi some more too”— an apparent reference to a years-long House probe that Democrats considered a political stunt.
Graham’s plans come while tensions on the panel linger from the deeply partisan fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Graham won praise from conservatives during that battle, when he exploded at Democrats during the hearing and accused them of trying to “destroy this guy’s life” after sexual assault allegations surfaced against Kavanaugh.
Graham bizarrely flipped from being a Trump critic to firebrand ally for the president. Many speculate that Trump has dirt on Graham as an explanation to his sudden change.
Meanwhile, Democrats are pushing for the committee to dig into an explosive Buzzfeed News report that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told Mueller that Trump personally directed him to lie after his election about the timing of when the negotiations involving the Trump Tower project in Moscow ended in an effort to obscure the president’s involvement.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to Graham on Friday asking him to call Cohen to testify before the committee.
“Our committee must conduct a thorough investigation of the President’s involvement in these crimes and whether he obstructed justice to hide them. …The hour to put country before petty partisan differences has come,” he added.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the panel, added in a statement, without directly mentioning Graham, that Republicans should “join in a bipartisan effort to get the facts to the American people, who deserve to know the full story of what happened during and after the 2016 election.”
Graham has aligned himself closely to Trump on some key areas within the panel’s jurisdiction.
He’s promised he’ll use the Judiciary Committee to clear the president’s conservative judicial picks. And he’s committed the panel to digging into issues at the DOJ and FBI that Trump publicly pressured former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate.
Graham told reporters earlier this month that he would do a “deep dive into the FISA issue” as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And he told Fox News last month that he believed the FBI “phoned in” the Clinton probe and were “in the tank” for the Democratic presidential candidate.