Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a recent interview that he believes officials from the Obama administration are opposing the declassification of documents relating to the origin of the Russia probe because they are afraid of being “exposed for taking the law in their own hands.”
During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” with host Chris Wallace on May 26, Graham expressed his support for President Donald Trump’s decision to declassify the documents that related to the conduct of intelligence agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI in 2016.
“I’m insisting that we get to the bottom of this. I want all the documents around the FISA warrant application released. I want to find out exactly how the counterintelligence operation began. I think transparency is good for the American people,” Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Wallace.
He added that he doesn’t think any Democrats care about whether the FBI and DOJ had misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court when obtaining warrants to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“I wish some Democrat would come forward to find out if the FISA court was defrauded by the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Graham said.
Trump’s announced that he authorized Attorney General William Barr to declassify information or intelligence related to surveillance activities surrounding the campaigns in the 2016 Presidential election on May 23. He also called for the heads of several agencies including the FBI, CIA, and State Department to fully cooperate with Barr in his probe into the origins of the Russia investigation.
This action has attracted opposition from former CIA director John Brennan and other members of the intelligence community. In an interview with MSNBC, Brennan criticized Trump’s decision, claiming that this would expose “sources and methods” of the intelligence community in the United States, as well as partners abroad.
“The concern is that very, very precious source and methods of the United States intelligence community as well as our partners and allies abroad—those who share this sensitive information with us,” Brennan said.
Graham, without identifying names, said that the people are opposing because they are “worried about being exposed for taking the law in their own hands.”
“It doesn’t surprise me that the people we are looking at, they don’t want transparency,” the senator said. “We’re not compromising national security here. We’re trying to create a system to make sure this never happens again by shedding light on what happened with the FISA warrant process, the counterintelligence investigation. Did they have a lawful reason to surveil President Trump’s campaign? Did they lie to the FISA court?”
“Every American should want to find that out,” Graham added.
Also in the interview, Wallace asks Graham two questions that Brennan raised as concerns in his remarks during the MSNBC interview.
“Here are the two questions that [critics] raised: one, can Barr be trusted with these secrets? And two, can he be trusted not to cherry-pick the information to make a case for the president?” Wallace asked.
“Well, I think he can be trusted. I’m going to look at this. You know, nobody doubted my trust or my ability to be fair when I supported Mueller,” Graham responded.
Barr is currently looking at the origins of the Russia investigation and surveillance activities against the Trump campaign and associates during the 2016 presidential election.
Trump said his decision to declassify the information to “help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions.”
Graham has been a vocal supporter for an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. In another interview with Fox, he said through an investigation, “you’re gonna find out the mentality of the people investigating the president. You’re gonna find out exactly what they did, you’re gonna find out [George] Papadopoulos was not working with the Russians. They knew early on he had no contacts with the Russians.”