Graham on Mueller: I don't care about the obstruction of justice stuff

Graham on Mueller: I don't care about the obstruction of justice stuff
© Greg Nash

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar Trump takes two punches from GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-S.C.), a close ally of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE, says he never took seriously the possible charges of obstruction of justice raised by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate 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 Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s report.

Graham says he was more concerned about charges that Trump and his senior advisers may have colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign, something that Mueller’s report failed to find.

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“I didn’t care about the obstruction of justice stuff. What I cared about was were you working with the Russians?” Graham told reporters Thursday in response to a question about whether he thought there were any significant findings in the Mueller report.

Graham’s statement reflects the views of other Republicans that Trump can’t be impeached for obstruction of justice if the special counsel failed to find an underlying crime.

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Native Americans are targets of voter suppression too MORE wrote in a letter to Congress in March that the lack of evidence showing that Trump was “involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference” weighed heavily on his determination that the president was not guilty of obstructing justice.

The findings of the Mueller report are getting a second look on Capitol Hill after the decision by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) to launch a formal impeachment inquiry in the House. House Democrats are most focused, however, on allegations that Trump pressed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE for his own political gain, and whether he withheld aid to that country. 

Graham, who served as a prosecutor in the Senate’s 1999 impeachment trial of then President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonOvernight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' Biden rolls dice by getting more aggressive on vaccines Amanda Knox blasts 'Stillwater' movie: 'Does my name belong to me? MORE, says the Democrats’ impeachment push against Trump is bogus.

“There is no high crime or misdemeanor from the Mueller report and this whole transcript is a joke,” Graham said Thursday, arguing that neither Mueller’s 448-page report nor a transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky provide grounds for impeachment proceedings.

Graham said if Mueller found that Trump or his senior advisers colluded with Russia, it would have been a deal-breaker. But he noted that was not found to be true after an exhaustive investigation.

“I’ve told him to his face that if you’re working with the Russians, that would be it for you with me,” Graham said of his conversations with the president. “I’ve said that to the whole world. I didn’t know what Mueller was going to find. I supported the Mueller investigation to its completion.

“If there had been real collusion between Trump and the Russians to get an advantage over his opponent, that would have been disqualifying,” Graham said of the 2016 election. “I think all this other stuff is politically driven.”