The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to give committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham the power to subpoena dozens of Obama and Trump administration officials as part of the Republican-led committee’s probe of the 2016 Russia investigation.
The committee voted 12 to 10 along party lines to green light possible subpoenas for at least 53 people for interviews and documents related to the investigation, including former FBI Director James Comey, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The probe aims to examine the FBI’s handling of “Crossfire Hurricane,” the bureau’s code name for its 2016 investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, which led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“I think we need to look long and hard about how the Mueller investigation got off the rails,” Graham said Thursday. “This committee is not going to sit on the sidelines and move on.”
“It would be a collaborative process, but you’re trying to stop me — and I’m not going to be stopped,” the South Carolina Republican said of criticism from Democrats. “From my point of view, it sounds like you want to talk about everything except for what we should be talking about.”
After Mueller released the final report on his team’s investigation, the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a report in December on the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation concluding that agents failed to inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the controversial Steele dossier, cited in applications to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page during the 2016 election, was unreliable. The dossier was compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele who was investigating Donald Trump for an opposition research firm hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign. The dossier purported to show connections between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
However, the inspector general’s report did not say the FISA court should have declined to grant the warrants and nevertheless concluded that political bias did not compromise the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation.
Former acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who signed off on the third application to renew the FISA warrant to spy on Page, last week became the first witness to testify to the committee as part of the probe. Rosenstein told the committee that in retrospect, he would not have approved the warrant had he been aware then of the unreliability of the underlying evidence.
“Anybody who knew about the problems with the dossier and continued to use it are good candidates to go to jail,” Graham said Monday.
The Judiciary Committee chairman also said he would allow Mueller to testify after Democrats urged him to call the former special counsel as a witness.
“Once we find out that the Mueller investigation was run by people who hated Trump’s guts, dripping with partisanship, nobody seems to care,” Graham said.
The committee’s Democratic ranking member, Dianne Feinstein, accused Graham of attempting to “grant himself unilateral subpoena authority” without the approval of a single Democrat and said the GOP’s investigation is politically motivated.
“Unfortunately, it appears that Senate Republicans now plan to spend the next several months bolstering the president’s attack on the Russia investigation and his Democratic nominee, Democrat Joe Biden. Congress should not conduct politically motivated investigations designed to attack or help any presidential candidate,” Feinstein said.