Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Monday that he will probe alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) at the start of the Russia investigation, while calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to appoint a new special counsel to investigate the “other side of the story.”
Graham, R-S.C., made the comments during a press conference on Capitol Hill following the release of the findings in the Robert Mueller investigation, which did not uncover evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy in 2016. Graham and other Trump allies cited the findings to renew scrutiny of the probe's origins at the FBI. The chairman said he'll look into any alleged misconduct related to the Russia investigation on the part of the Justice Department, the FBI and the Democrats, but added that due to “the emotional nature of this” he believes a new appointment is necessary.
“I’d like to find somebody, like a Mr. Mueller, that can look into what happened with the FISA warrants, the counterintelligence investigation. Am I right to be concerned? It seems pretty bad on its face—but there are some people that are never going to accept the Mueller report, but by any reasonable standard, Mueller thoroughly investigated the Trump campaign. You cannot say that about the other side of the story,” Graham told reporters Monday.
“I hope Mr. Barr will appoint somebody outside the current system to look into these allegations, somebody we all trust, and let them do what Mueller did,” he continued, adding that he has been calling for the appointment of a second special counsel since 2017 to investigate “whether or not a counterintelligence investigation was opened as a back door to spy on the Trump campaign.”
“A counterintelligence investigation is designed to protect the entity being targeted by a foreign power…I still am at a loss as to why nobody went to President Trump to tell him,” Graham said Monday.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is currently investigating any alleged misconduct related to FISA warrants delivered from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The Justice Department and FBI obtained warrants in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. The status of the investigation, or a timeline of when the review will be complete, is unclear.
Meanwhile, Graham said the basis of his panel’s “deep dive” into alleged FISA abuses would be the unverified anti-Trump dossier and what role the document played, questioning whether it was “supplemental or outcome determinative.”
“Was it a ruse to get into the Trump campaign?” Graham asked Monday. “I don’t know, but I’m going to try to find out.”
He added: “I have been talking since 2017 about the other side of the story. Nobody much appears to care, but I hope you will find some interest now.”
Graham said he wants answers on how much money the Democrats paid research firm Fusion GPS to commission the dossier, or if the contents of the dossier have been verified.
Graham’s announcement comes after the attorney general released a summary of Mueller’s findings, revealing that the special counsel found no evidence of collusion between members of, or anyone associated with, the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Graham vowed to call Barr to testify on the Mueller report, but suggested he could also call on Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and former FBI Director James Comey to appear before his committee.
This comes after Graham responded to a tweet from Comey showing him in the woods with the text, “So many questions.” Graham shot back: “Could not agree more. See you soon.”