Sen. Lindsey Graham has confirmed he would look into the FBI’s handling of investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails if he assumes chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Totally,” Graham told CNN, adding “the oversight function will be very much front and center.”
The South Carolina Republican could become the chairman of the Judiciary Committee if Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) relinquishes this post. Grassley is said to be considering a move to the Senate Finance Committee to serve as its head, according to The Hill.
“I don’t know what Sen. Grassley’s going to do, he’s been a great chairman of the Committee. If I’m chairman next year, we’re going to do judges, judges, and more judges,” Graham said Wednesday, Nov. 14, on Fox News’ Hannity.
Grassley is poised to become the Senate pro tempore, following his nomination that same day by unanimous decision of the Senate’s Republican majority. If confirmed, Grassley will become third in the line of presidential succession following the Vice President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The appointment, however, would not preclude Grassley serving as head of the Finance Committee.
Graham has previously expressed a desire to look into the FBI’s investigations and has suggested that a second special counsel should be appointed to probe Republican allegations of bias within the bureau.
“I’ve seen not one scintilla of evidence of collusion,” Graham told Hannity on the show. He added that Democrat claims that President Donald Trump tried to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe are false.
“The obstruction of justice thing never made any sense to me,” Graham said of the allegations. “This is a manufactured problem. President Trump is not going to fire Mueller. Mueller’s going to be allowed to do his job.”
Graham also told CNN on Tuesday that he would support a bill to protect Mueller, but said he doesn’t believe the bill is needed.
“I’d support it if it came to the floor, but I don’t see any threat to Mueller,” said Graham, who cosponsored the special counsel bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved this year. “The idea of a check and balance going forward makes sense to me.”
Democrats have called for swift passage of the bill after Jeff Sessions was fired as attorney general last week and Matt Whitaker was named acting Attorney General.
Sessions was part of Trump’s campaign before the president appointed him to lead the Justice Department. Sessions drew Trump’s ire by recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein oversaw the Russia investigation by Mueller until Whitaker took over the reins.
Whitaker has previously taken issue with the scope of Mueller’s investigation. He has written several opinion pieces as a private citizen arguing for reducing Mueller’s funding and limiting the scope of his investigation, prompting Democrats to suggest that he may limit or end the probe.
Graham has dismissed these suggestions.
“He understands the position he’s in,” Graham said, according to CNN. “He’s probably not going to be the next attorney general, but this is a chance for him to show he can handle responsibility. This enhances his political future if he handles this well. It would be a nightmare for us to truncate the Mueller investigation.”
Trump has faced legal pushback over Whitaker’s appointment. The state of Maryland challenged the appointment in court on Nov. 13. Maryland’s legal filing argued in part that Trump violated the Constitution’s appointments clause because the position of attorney general, as a “principal officer,” must be confirmed by the Senate.
The Justice Department issued a legal opinion on Nov. 14 which concludes that Trump acted lawfully and within his authority in appointing Whitaker as acting AG.
Epoch Times staff member Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report