Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has become the new darling of the right-wing. And he strengthened his position Tuesday night by saying that if he becomes chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee he would “totally” investigate the FBI for the way it handled two major investigations:
- The FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and
- The investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“The oversight function will be very much front and center,” Graham said in an appearance on CNN.
Graham has seniority and thus is well-positioned to take over the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee if circumstances allow it. The current Chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, may decide to leave Judiciary and become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee instead.
Graham in recent months has emerged as one of President Donald Trump’s strongest advocates in Congress. Previously they had been at odds after competing against each other in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.
This is not the first time that the South Carolina senator has expressed his desire to look into previous FBI investigations. On several occasions he has suggested that a second special counsel should be appointed to look into GOP allegations of bias within the nation’s top law enforcement agency.
Also on Tuesday Graham said that he would support any bill in Congress that was introduced to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and his probe into Russian election interference. He also said, however, that he doesn’t believe there’s a need for it.
“I don’t see any movement to get rid of Mueller,” Graham said. “But it probably would be good to have this legislation in place just for the future.”
Last April Graham co-sponsored a bill to protect the Mueller investigation. His proposed legislation would codify Department of Justice regulations which say that only a senior official can fire Mueller or another special counsel.
Many members of Congress, including all Democrats and some Republicans, have been calling for legislation to protect the special counsel over the past week. This new development came about after President Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
Whitaker’s appointment has been extremely controversial. Some people believe it is illegal. Others say he has a conflict and must recuse himself from oversight of the special counsel’s investigation.
Whitaker had previously authored strongly-worded opinion pieces in which he argued for stifling Mueller’s funding and curbing the scope of his investigation.
In saying there is no need for legislation to protect Mueller Graham was echoing the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said the same thing last week. McConnell, however, said he would not support legislation to protect Mueller because it is not needed.