A Democrat on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham “looks like a man possessed” as he and other Republican lawmakers amp up pressure on the main actors behind the Trump dossier alleging the president is compromised by ties to Russia.
Graham and Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa recommended a criminal investigation into Christopher Steele, the dossier author, for making false statements to federal investigators.
California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of a slew of Democrats to denounce the Republican senators for the criminal referral, criticized Graham for losing his way in deference to President Donald Trump.
“He was somebody who I think understood who Donald Trump was when he was candidate Graham,” Swalwell said Sunday on MSNBC of the senator who ran against Trump for the GOP presidential nomination.
But Swalwell said Graham is now parroting “these talking points that you’re seeing from Devin Nunes and conservative voices where it seems like there’s no end or no floor of the FBI building that they wouldn’t be willing to burn down just to advance the narrative of the president.”
Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop declined to directly respond to Swalwell’s comments, instead referring to a segment on Fox News in which a panelist dubbed Graham and Grassley “oversight bulls” who people on “both sides of the aisle respect.”
“Seriously, you are writing about some congressman on MSNBC? Wow,” Bishop wrote in an email.
Graham and Grassley have asked the Department of Justice to create a special counsel to investigate Steele’s contacts with the DOJ, the FBI’s handling of the dossier, and any circumstances surrounding it that could show bias existed against the president within the department.
They sent a classified memorandum to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray detailing the findings that led to their request.
“I want a special counsel to look not only at how Mr. Steele conducted himself, what the FBI did with the dossier, whether [Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr], whose wife worked for Fusion GPS alongside Mr. Steele, what involvement did he have in the dossier?” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
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Ohr met with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that paid for the research that ended up in the dossier, after the November 2016 election “to discuss our findings regarding Russia and the election,” Simpson said in a court document. Then-FBI Director James B. Comey concluded the initial Hillary Clinton email investigation in July 2016, four months before the election. Ohr has had no role in the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation, Rosenstein told Congress in December.
Still, Graham has his crosshairs fixed on Ohr for his role in the Clinton email investigation.
“I want to find out if the lead investigator of the Clinton email investigation had a political bias against Trump for Clinton to the point where it was a sham investigation,” the senator said.
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee were irate at their colleagues for issuing the criminal referral.
“I wasn’t consulted about this referral nor were any of my Democratic colleagues,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on Judiciary, said in a statement Friday. “I think this referral is unfortunate as it’s clearly another effort to deflect attention from what should be the committee’s top priority: determining whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the election and whether there was subsequent obstruction of justice.”