Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday called for a special prosecutor to investigate both the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department’s investigations of reporters.
Graham, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” said that the IRS scandal illustrated a culture of revenge that permeates President Obama’s administration.
“James Rosen is a lot of things, but a criminal co-conspirator he is not,” Graham added. “We’re beginning to criminalize journalism, and I think that should worry us all.”
The Justice Department went after Rosen’s e-mails because of his contact with a State Department official thought to have leaked information about North Korea. Republicans have raised questions about Obama putting Attorney General Eric Holder in charge of that investigation, since it would be looking into his own department.
On the IRS matter, Graham said there was clearly “an organized effort within the IRS” to target Obama’s opponents, and that the White House played a role in developing the culture that allowed that to happen.
Republicans, though, have been wary of calling for a special counsel in that case, at least in part because Holder would be able to appoint that prosecutor.
“My belief about the IRS scandal is that this culture of going after Tea Party groups that were on the president’s case about ObamaCare did just not accidentally happen,” the South Carolina Republican said. “I think it comes from the top in terms of tone.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), appearing with Graham, wasn’t ready to call for a special counsel in either case.
“I’d like to know if Holder has any conflict in here beyond what we’ve heard, when it comes to the Fox case,” Durbin said.
The Illinois Democrat also said that the government had to be careful in dealing with the balance between protecting the country and preserving constitutional rights.
“It is a constant tension between the government and our freedoms under the Bill of Rights that we see playing out,” Durbin said.