Graham: White House agrees to protect abuse photos

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate panel advances three spending bills Trump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official MORE (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that an agreement has been reached on a two-part solution to ban the release of any photos depicting abuse of U.S. military detainees.

Speaking to reporters in the Senate, Graham said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called to pledge to him and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that President Obama would issue an order classifying the photos if Congress does not pass a law to ban their release.

“If necessary, he said the president would make sure those photos never see the light of day,” Graham said. “The only way you’d be able to do that is to make sure they’re considered national security documents. That’s their commitment to me and the country, and I take them at their word.”

Specifically, Graham said Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe American experience is incomplete without its neighbor – The argument for Americanism Eric Holder: Trump administration has 'brought shame to the nation’ with family separations US law is not on the side of Mueller's appointment as special counsel MORE assured him that Obama is considering an order that would classify the photos.

A White House aide had no comment.

Separately, Graham said Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary MORE (D-Nev.) has agreed to a July 8 vote on a standalone bill to ban the photos from being released. Graham said that either a free-standing vote would be held or the bill would be passed by unanimous consent.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley suggested an even quicker timetable, saying, “We are trying to see if we can pass their bill before voting on the supp,” referring to the $108 billion military supplemental the Senate is expected to take up later this week.

Obama decided last month to withhold the photos, but the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to force their release. A federal court last week issued a stay until this fall, keeping the photos under wraps at least until then.

Sam Youngman contributed to this report