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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 GrahamBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Let's give thanks to Republican defenders of democracy 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 SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms 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 RosensteinTrump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Ex-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. 'will ignore' Trump's threats against political rivals The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House 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 TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE.

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