Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham on Monday vowed to investigate the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in order to expose possible anti-Trump bias on the part of the Department of Justice officials who opened the investigation.
During a press conference marking the release of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, Graham called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether DOJ officials overreached in investigating Trump due to their personal and political hostility to him.
“By any reasonable standard, Mr. Mueller thoroughly investigated the Trump campaign. You cannot say that about the other side of the story. And what I hope Mr. Barr will do is understand: for the country’s sake appoint somebody outside the current system to look into these allegations, somebody we all trust, and let them do what Mr. Mueller did,” Graham said.
The South Carolina Republican vowed that, regardless of whether a special counsel is appointed, the Judiciary Committee would investigate to what extent DOJ officials relied on the uncorroborated Steele dossier when applying for a warrant to surveil Carter Page during his time as a national-security adviser to the Trump campaign.
“What role did the dossier play? Was it the primary source of the information given to the court, was it supplemental, was its outcome determinative? I want to hear from Mr. [Bruce] Ohr why he warned people that you might not want to rely on Christopher Steele,” Graham told reporters when asked what specific events his committee plans to investigate. “I want to know the role James Comey played in this process. I want to find out: Was the only reason you recused yourself was because of the tarmac meeting with Loretta Lynch?” Graham added, referring to Bill Clinton’s June 2016 meeting with then-attorney general Loretta Lynch on an Arizona airport tarmac.
Republicans have repeatedly cited the meeting in arguing that Lynch was compromised by the Clintons and, as a result, instructed the FBI not to pursue charges related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Former FBI director James Comey admitted during subsequent congressional testimony that Lynch instructed him to refer to the Clinton email probe as a “matter” when announcing that the DOJ would not pursue charges.
Senior DOJ officials relied on information provided in the Steele dossier as part of their FISA warrant application to surveil Page, and did not inform the court that the dossier was partially funded by a law firm working on behalf of the Clinton campaign. Graham went on to call the unsubstantiated dossier “garbage,” pointing out that a number of its allegations — including the claim that Michael Cohen went to Prague to meet with Russian hackers during the campaign — have been disproven.