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 GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Congress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE (R-S.C.), a close ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE, says he never took seriously the possible charges of obstruction of justice raised by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrStone judge under pressure over calls for new trial The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Congress eyes killing controversial surveillance program 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 PelosiTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Stone judge under pressure over calls for new trial 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 BidenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket 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 Clinton6 ways the primary fight is toughening up Democrats for the fall general election Rahm Emanuel: 'Panic would be the adjective to describe the mood' over Sanders Do Trump and Sanders hate America? 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.”