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 GrahamSeveral GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Graham says he appreciates Trump orders, but 'would much prefer a congressional agreement' Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 SessionsThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Tuberville breaks DC self-quarantine policy to campaign 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 RosensteinFBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Sally Yates to testify as part of GOP probe into Russia investigation Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe 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 TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE.

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