Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) held a press conference Monday to announce that he will be seeking an official investigation into the FBI’s handling of both the probe into Hillary Clinton’s misuse of classified email, and the Obama-era directive that allowed the FBI to obtain secret FISA warrants.
The Hill reports that, following revelations in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Graham is concerned that the Obama Administration allowed blatant abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and that the so-called “Steele Dossier” — now completely discredited — was used to obtain FISA warrants to wiretap key Trump aides Carter Page and Paul Manafort, who, Mueller now reports, did not attempt to collude with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
“When it comes to the FISA warrant, the Clinton campaign, the counterintelligence investigation, it’s pretty much been swept under the rug. … Those days are over,” Graham said during his presser Monday.
“The FISA warrant issued against Carter Page based on a dossier prepared by Christopher Steele is at a minimum disturbing,” Graham added. “Whether or not it’s illegal, I don’t yet know, so I’m going to get answers to this.”
Graham has a lot to work with. As (the decidedly not conservative) Matt Taibbi pointed out over the weekend, in a piece taking the media to task for failing to report accurately on the Russia collusion story, perhaps one of the strangest developments of the Mueller investigation is the media’s lack of attention to what appears to be malfeasance on the part of both the FBI and CIA.
The Steele dossier was, according to Taibbi, shopped to multiple news outlets, who ultimately gave the report creedence, occasionally with input from current and former intelligence officials. Once the allegations contained in the dossier made it into print, it appears the FBI used the stories to demonstrate the dossier’s credibility to the FISA court, even though Christopher Steele, who compiled the report, was far from a reliable source.
The Wall Street Journal also noted the suspicious chain of evidence that led to the FISA court issuing warrants, including an authorization to wiretap Manafort, which may have unintentionally led to the FBI listening in on conversations Manafort had with then-candidate Donald Trump.
The WSJ’s Kim Strassel reports:
The FBI unleashed its powers on a candidate for the office of the U.S. presidency, an astonishing first. It did so on the incredible grounds that the campaign had conspired to aid a foreign government. And it used the most aggressive tools in its arsenal—surveillance of U.S. citizens, secret subpoenas of phone records and documents, even human informants.
The “circular reporting” story is certainly unproven, but as Graham noted Monday, it’s odd enough that it deserves a second look from Congress.
“I believe there was more there and I intend to get to there,” Graham said.
Graham, who is the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, could use the powers of his office to question certain officials directly, but he also mentioned speaking to Attorney General William Barr about appointing a second Special Counsel — “somebody like a Mr. Mueller” — to continue the investigation independent of Congress.