Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced March 25 that his committee will investigate alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which resulted in the yearlong surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate.
The day after Attorney General William Barr exonerated President Donald Trump of allegations of collusion and obstruction based on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller, Graham called on Barr to appoint a second special counsel to scrutinize the events that led to the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
“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,” Graham said on Capitol Hill.
Graham has been calling for the appointment of a special counsel since 2017, when the first traces of evidence surfaced pointing to a potentially illegitimate surveillance operation against the Trump campaign.
“A counterintelligence investigation is designed to protect the entity being targeted by a foreign power,” Graham said. “I still am at a loss as to why nobody went to President Trump to tell him.”
Graham’s announcement echoes the calls from other Republicans, the president, and his allies to investigate the Obama administration officials involved in what appears to be an extensive, multi-pronged, international surveillance operation targeting Trump and his associates before and after the 2016 election.
Efforts to unravel the surveillance operation by congressional investigators and the Justice Department watchdog have so far been impeded by the existence of Mueller’s investigation, which took over the FBI’s probe of the Trump campaign. As a result, the Justice Department has stonewalled requests for transparency, on concern the release of information might create the appearance of interference with the special counsel investigation.
The completion of Mueller’s investigation opens the doors for further scrutiny of questionable actions taken by senior Obama administration officials in relation to the Trump campaign as far back as 2015.
In remarks to reporters outside the White House on March 25, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called out former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan, saying they were “involved in the process of trying to take down the president” with an “absurd lie that the president of the United States was somehow a foreign agent.”
“The fact that they spent two years trying to delegitimize the president’s victory in 2016 is disgusting and there are a lot of people who should answer questions,” Sanders said.
“Let’s not forget that all of this interference in the election took place during the Obama administration. They knew about it and they did nothing to stop it.”
The FBI officially started its investigation of the Trump campaign in late July 2016. The probe was led by Peter Strzok, then a senior FBI official who showed anti-Trump bias in text messages with FBI attorney Lisa Page. Strzok and Page discussed stopping Trump from winning the election, an “insurance policy” in case he won, and the prospects of impeachment after Trump was elected.
The investigators eventually obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page. The core of the application for the warrant consisted of evidence from the so-called Steele dossier.
In their application to a secret surveillance court, senior FBI and DOJ officials failed to disclose that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the dossier. The officials also failed to disclose that the author of the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, was biased against Trump and didn’t want him to be elected president. Steele paid second- and third-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin for the information in the dossier.
Trump has long derided the special counsel’s investigation, due to its questionable roots. Mueller’s conclusion is the final nail in the coffin of the Steele dossier, every allegation in which has proven to be either debunked or unsubstantiated despite intense investigations by Congress, the media, and now the special counsel.
“There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things. I would say treasonous things against our country,” Trump told reporters at the White House on March 25. “Those people will certainly be looked at. I have been looking at them for a long time.”
“I will tell you, I love this country. I love this country as much as I can love anything: my family, my country, my God. But what they did, it was a false narrative,” the president added. “We can never, ever let this happen to another president again.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Sen. Lindsey Graham’s name in a caption. The Epoch Times regrets the error.