I don’t care what you think of Senator Lindsey Graham’s politics. He’s a little too “squish” for my tastes, personally, and I’ve said as much.
That being said, when the man has a point, he has a point, and he appeared on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, discussing the controversy surrounding House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’ handling of the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, as well as President Trump’s claims that Trump Tower was “wiretapped” by the Obama administration.
At the president’s request, those investigations have been bundled into the same hearings.
Graham was questioned about Nunes’ presser, where he claimed to have conferred with “sources” that revealed that members of Trump’s team had been “incidentally surveilled,” as in, possibly mentioned in passing by someone U.S. intelligence was actually investigating.
In other words, not surveilled at all. His point was that the information that somebody within Trump’s team may have been mentioned, and the fact that they were mentioned was spread to others within the intelligence community – you know, the actual surveillance details were shared and those names were included in the reports – is supposed to be the smoking gun that proves former President Obama “wiretapped” Trump’s transition team, after all.
It’s kind of twisted, and Nunes went about gathering this information on his own, sharing it with no one on the committee he chairs before taking it to the press.
He did discuss it with President Trump beforehand, however.
“I think it’s a little bizarre. There’s nothing been revealed to suggest the Obama administration surveilled the Trump campaign. That’s not even what Nunes is saying. He’s saying there’s incidental collection outside of Russia,” Graham said.
“The problem he’s created is he’s gone out on a lark by himself, sort of an Inspector Clouseau investigation here, trying to find some unmasking information about collection incidental with the Trump campaign and some foreign agent outside of Russia. I think the only way this can be repaired is if he tells his colleagues on the House Intelligence committee who he met with and what he saw.”
Except he’s refusing to do that. He wants the world to just take his word for it.
And this isn’t supposed to seem really suspicious, at all.
The latest is that Nunes visited the White House grounds the day before his press conference, supposedly to look over the evidence he claims to have seen, but that nobody else is allowed to see, in a secure location.
“He put his objectivity in question at the very least,” Graham said. “Here’s what I would suggest — that Devin go to his Democratic colleagues and share the information that he was given by this unknown person so they’d all know exactly what he’s talking about. If he’s not willing to tell the Democrats and Republicans on the committee who he met with and what he was told, then I think he’s lost his ability to lead.”
Graham worried that the House investigation has been permanently spoiled and said the focus should turn to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation.
Democrats would like to see an independent investigation. They don’t trust Nunes to lead the House investigation, any longer.
Under the circumstances, I can see why. You expect these things to be partisan, but that doesn’t mean we should ever accept it, and certainly not to this extent.
“I think he has to repair the damage,” Graham said. “My belief is that the House is off track and probably can’t get back on track. Burr and Warner are doing a great job in the Senate. I’m working with the White House. But as to whether or not he should step down, I’ll leave that to the House leadership, but I think most Americans want to know who did he meet with and what did he see?
“I have no idea [who his source is] and I think you should know that and I should know that,” Graham continued. “I think he owes that to his fellow committee members, that if he went down to the White House and was given classified information about some impropriety about surveilling the Trump campaign he needs to share that with his fellow committee members at the very minimum.”