Graham to renew call for second special counsel

Graham to renew call for second special counsel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal Bottom line GOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' MORE (R-S.C.) said Thursday that he would renew a call for an independent counsel to investigate Republican allegations of bias at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI.

Graham claimed in an interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that a text message exchange between two former FBI officials focused on by House Republicans “is just one of a series of events that scream for a special counsel.”

The South Carolina senator, who has been an ally of President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE, said he intends to send a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE asking that the Justice Department appoint an independent counsel to investigate alleged bias at the DOJ and the FBI.

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The allegations center on communications between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page uncovered by a recent Justice Department inspector general investigation. Republicans say that the messages, which were critical of Trump, are evidence of systemic bias at the bureau during the concurrent investigations into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBen Affleck: Republicans 'want to dodge the consequences for their actions' through gerrymandering Republican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema MORE’s emails and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“What I can’t get over is how much more has to be uncovered at the Department of Justice regarding a political agenda,” Graham said Thursday on the “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

“The Department of Justice and the FBI were political operatives when it came to Trump, they weren't investigators. This screams for a special counsel.”

The DOJ declined to comment on Graham's remarks.

Republicans have launched probes into the allegations, demanding documents from the Justice Department in a feud that has ratcheted up tensions between the GOP and top federal law enforcement officials.

Critics see the effort as a broader push to discredit Special Counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE’s investigation into Russian interference, which includes looking at whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.

Graham was referring to new messages disclosed in letter from Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsJan. 6 panel threatens Meadows with contempt Trump considered withdrawing Kavanaugh nomination over beer comments, being 'too apologetic': Meadows book Meadows reverses, won't agree to Jan. 6 panel deposition MORE (R-N.C.) to Rosenstein on Tuesday that the congressman said raised  “grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking by high-ranking officials at FBI and DOJ related to ongoing investigations.”

The letter referenced an April 2017 text message in which Strzok contacted Page to discuss a “media leak strategy” and suggested the officials leaked details about the surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to the media.

Democrats have accused Republicans of mischaracterizing portions of text messages and leaking them to the press. They claim the officials were discussing changes to the department’s media leak rules in order to prevent leaks.

“Republicans in Congress repeatedly cherry-pick, mischaracterize, and then leak bits and pieces of documents to fabricate conspiracy theories to protect President Trump, and this is just the latest example,” Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.) said in a statement this week.

Trump, meanwhile, has seized on the new details, tweeting Thursday, “More text messages between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are a disaster and embarrassment to the FBI & DOJ. This should never have happened but we are learning more and more by the hour.”

Graham, who has become a confidante of Trump and frequently golfs with the president, has previously called for a second special counsel to investigate alleged bias at the FBI.

“These new text messages from Sztrok and Page about leaking information about the FISA warrant process to the media is just one of a series of events that scream for a Special Counsel,” Graham told Ingraham.