WASHINGTON – Predicting that the public will not see the full report on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, Senator Lindsey Graham noted Monday that material covered by executive privilege will likely be kept under wraps.
“My desire is for the public to get as much of the report as possible,” said Graham, a South Carolina Republican and vocal ally of President Donald Trump.
During a 30-minute press conference late Monday morning, Graham noted that Attorney General William Barr will likely withhold material pertaining to grand jury secrecy, classified information and anything subject to executive privilege.
Graham also said it is his hope that Barr will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and that he will ask Barr to appoint a special counsel to investigate “the other side of the story.”
That includes looking at whether the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant process for political purposes, and whether the FBI wrongfully used the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele to obtain a FSIA warrant for former Trump associate Carter Page.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina
Graham wants to know as well if the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation to spy on the Trump campaign. He noted that such investigations are supposed to protect those being targeted by a foreign power.
“How did it fail and break down here?” Graham asked. “Was it a ruse to get into the Trump campaign? I don’t know but I’m going to try to find out.”
Graham said he is confident that special counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation without interference, and “that he [Mueller] was the right guy at the right time” to definitively answer the question of collusion.
“It was the Russians, it wasn’t some 300-pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere,” Graham said of Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report. “And the conclusion was confirmed without equivocation, that no one on the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.”
This characterization omits a key disclosure by Barr on Sunday that Mueller’s report “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice.
As for those already convicted in the Mueller probe, Graham urged President Trump not to pardon any of the defendants.
“If President Trump pardoned anybody in his orbit, it would not play well,” Graham said.
Barr’s four-page summary of Mueller’s report said that the probe “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
As presented in his short summary, that appears to pertain only to the disinformation campaign waged by Russian company the Internet Research Agency and the hacking operations carried out by Russian intelligence officers.
The scope of that finding pertains to the lack of a “tacit or express” agreement between the Russian government and the Trump campaign on the election disruption.
This story is developing…