Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said Thursday his committee is opening a wide-ranging investigation into the origins of the now-debunked Russia investigation.
President Donald Trump says that’s not enough.
Graham’s investigation won’t involve former President Barack Obama. The South Carolina senator is publicly rejecting calls to question the man suspected by some to be the center of a Deep State attack on Trump officials.
In short, Graham is looking at Obama officials.
But he won’t investigate Obama himself.
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“I am greatly concerned about the precedent that would be set by calling a former president for oversight,” Graham told “Fox and Friends.” “No president is above the law. However, the presidency has executive privilege claims against other branches of government.”
Basically, Graham doesn’t want to establish a precedent of investigating former presidents. Democrats could return the favor and further investigate Trump after he leaves the White House.
President Trump swiftly responded on Twitter to Graham’s excuse with five powerful words.
“No more Mr. Nice Guy,” Trump wrote.
If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
“No more talk,” Trump added.
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The Judiciary Committee will first delve into the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss its prosecution of former Gen. Michael Flynn, as well as actions by the Obama administration to “unmask” Flynn’s name in intelligence reports during the Russia probe, Graham said.
“We must determine if these requests were legitimate,” Graham said, referring to requests by top Obama administration officials to ”unmask” Flynn’s name.
Graham also said the committee will look into potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, made against the Trump election campaign in 2016.
The FBI secretly targeted electronic communications of campaign officials based on faulty information and falsified warrant applications.
A federal watchdog has concluded that the FBI made significant errors and omissions in applications it made to a U.S. foreign intelligence court for the authorization to eavesdrop on former Trump aide Carter Page.
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“My goal is to find out why and how the system got so off the rails,” Graham said.
The Senate was set to vote Thursday on whether to extend the surveillance authorities as senators of both parties expressed concerns that the laws infringe on Americans’ rights.
The Judiciary Committee also will look at whether Robert Mueller should have been appointed as special counsel in the Russia probe. The decision to appoint Muller was made in 2017 by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“Was there a legitimate reason to conclude the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians?” Graham asked.
Graham’s announcement comes as Trump and his GOP allies begin a broad election-year attack on the foundation of the Russia investigation, including declassifying intelligence information to try to place senior Obama administration officials under scrutiny for routine actions.
The effort has been aided by the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss the Flynn prosecution, essentially rewriting the narrative of the case in a way that former federal law enforcement officials say downplays the legitimate national security concerns they believe Flynn’s actions raised.
Hearings by the Judiciary Committee will start in early June, Graham said.
Both Trump and Obama are welcome to come before the committee “and share their concerns about each other,” Graham said.
“If nothing else it would make for great television. However, I have great doubts about whether it would be wise for the country.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article