Graham seeks special counsel to probe FISA abuse claims: DOJ, FBI 'got off the rails'

Graham seeks special counsel to probe FISA abuse claims: DOJ, FBI 'got off the rails'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Trump officials move to expand non-ObamaCare health plans | 'Zero tolerance' policy stirs fears in health community | New ObamaCare repeal plan MORE (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that there should be a special counsel to investigate Republican claims of improper surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, noting the Justice Department and FBI "got off the rails" by approving the warrant.

"I can’t believe that we’re not going to have a special counsel in these circumstances. The Department of Justice and the FBI got off the rails. They can’t investigate themselves," Graham said in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt. "If there was ever a moment for a special counsel, it is now."

Hewitt noted the two House GOP chairmen who sent a letter on Tuesday to the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking for another special counsel to investigate claims that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant for Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was improperly approved based on unverified opposition research. 

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While the DOJ currently has its inspector general investigating the approval of the warrant, Graham explained that the Justice Department doesn't have the "institutional power" for a wide-ranging investigation outside the department.

When Hewitt asked why Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report Trump backs down in rare reversal Senate moving ahead with border bill, despite Trump MORE doesn't do the "obvious thing" and appoint a special counsel, Graham noted that the top official probably had to recuse himself from the decision, just as he did from the wider Russia probe, and that Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRepublicans tear into IG finding on Clinton probe US law is not on the side of Mueller's appointment as special counsel Republican wants to know why Rosenstein delayed release of FBI agent texts MORE should appoint the counsel instead.

A memo by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee published last month cited concerns over the evidence used to approve a FISA warrant. The concerns stem specifically from a dossier of opposition research on Trump written by a former British intelligence officer and paid for, in part, by the Democratic National Committee.

While Democrats on the committee have claimed that the dossier was among a large amount of evidence used in the decision to monitor Page, Republican lawmakers and administration officials have said the memo proves the FBI and DOJ were attempting to undermine President TrumpDonald John TrumpFamily immigration detention centers could be at capacity within days: report Trump likely to meet with Putin in July: report DOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report MORE.

"The dossier is totally unverified, and he had a political agenda. This is a dangerous precedent to set," Graham said.