Sen. Lindsey Graham has always talked a big game. When he’s not praising Joe Biden or treating Robert Mueller like a national hero, he makes his way to Fox News from time to time to rattle the saber over FBI and DOJ corruption. That’s mostly lead to nowhere, as we now stand less than five months from a national election with nothing accomplished and not a single major witness facing a subpoena.
Now, though, he’s finally pledging to do what he pledged to do over a year ago. This past week, his committee passed a resolution allowing the subpoenaing of various Obama era officials involved in Trump-Russia investigation corruption. Or is he going after FISA abuse? Or the unsupported appointment of Robert Mueller? Or the Michael Flynn abuse? Who knows at this point.
The unorganized, unserious nature of Graham’s investigation was the topic of Andrew McCarthy’s weekend piece.
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) June 13, 2020
Perhaps the biggest indictment is Graham’s wasting of time. Why did he wait until now to do this when he’s known for years that malfeasance went on?
Sure, it may take Senate Republicans a year or four to get around to historic Democratic abuses of the government’s awesome law-enforcement and foreign-intelligence apparatus for political purposes, but man oh man, do they mean business now . . . even though, um, there are only 50 business days left in the Senate’s calendar before Election Day, the Senate has lots of other pending business, and the pendency of Durham’s probe renders the notion of significant congressional testimony a pipe dream.
Anyone think he’s going to get all this testimony of dozens of people and a full report done in 50 days? As McCarthy notes, Graham was aware of the problems with the Steele Dossier and the lack of predication to go after the Trump campaign before Mueller was even appointed. Given that, there was zero excuse for Graham to support Mueller’s appointment with such force, pretending that his committee couldn’t even lift a finger until Muller was done with his investigation.
But Mueller did finish early last year. What did Graham do in the aftermath? Nothing at all. He made some empty promises about calling witnesses like James Comey and Andrew McCabe. That never happened. Remember when Graham promised to call the Ukraine “whistle-blower” to explain himself? Yeah, that never happened either.
With President Trump’s hands tied — if he had forced mass disclosure, he’d have been accused of corruptly obstructing Mueller’s investigation — the House desperately needed Senate Republicans to step up to the plate, to hold hearings, demand answers, and raise the public pressure for disclosure.
That’s what Senate Democrats would have done, remorselessly, were the shoe on the other foot.
But no, Republican senators weren’t interested in rocking the boat. Just wait until Mueller’s done, Senator Graham & Co. vowed, then we’ll really get to the bottom of this thing. Well, Mueller was done over a year ago . . . and now they’re going to start issuing subpoenas?
Hammer, meet nail.
Even the witnesses Graham has managed to call have been a underwhelming. While Rosenstein’s testimony yielded some fireworks (Ted Cruz’s moment was especially noteworthy), it revealed little new. Why? Because Senate Republicans were completely unprepared to counter the inconsistencies in his story, inconsistencies we’ve known about for literally years. When he was asked about wearing a wire to go after the President, he denied it. But no one then pressed him on why multiple other sources say it’s true. At least get him on record with a full denial.
I’ll also note the inconsistency in Graham’s own excuses regarding the timing of his investigation. He claimed he couldn’t do anything while Mueller was investigating, yet he’s now moving forward in the middle of the Durham investigation. So which is it? Can the Senate act while an active DOJ investigation is going on or was that just a convenient excuse over the prior three years? Good luck getting an answer to that question.
What Graham’s investigation feels like is an election season CYA. A way to say he did what he promised while having already wasted the opportunity to do anything meaningful. At this point, I don’t even trust his committee to not have their investigation backfire. Will they allow James Comey to come in and make them look foolish? While I trust Ted Cruz to be ready, he only gets a few minutes in the grand scheme of things.
That’s not to say I dislike Graham, think he should be voted out, or any other such overreaction. I think he’s a funny guy who has done some good things in office. But I do think he was the wrong person to lead an investigation like this. He’s too invested in too many of the figures involved, from Robert Mueller to Joe Biden (who is implicated in the unmasking scheme).
At the end of the day, Durham’s investigation is really the last hope for some justice to be served. Graham squandered the momentum he had after Mueller’s disastrous public testimony a year ago. His attempts to save it now, just months before an election and with Congress being in session only six more weeks, are likely to fail.