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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham on Wednesday blasted Democrats for their dismissal of the so-called “Russiagate” scandal, claiming that if a Republican administration had launched a spying campaign against one of their presidential nominees they’d be “raising holy hell.”
As the committee heard testimony from former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the first in a series of witnesses the GOP-led panel is preparing to call as it delves into the origins of the FBI’s operation to infiltrate the 2016 Trump campaign, Graham, a South Carolina Republican ripped Democrats on the panel for insisting there’s nothing to investigate.
“I want to make a statement about what I’m doing and why,” Graham began, referring to the purpose of the hearings.
“I believe, and all of us believe, that if the Republican Party had paid [former British spy] Mr. [Christopher] Steele through an organization [political opposition firm Fusion GPS] money to dig up dirt on [2016 Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton, and he used a Russian to create a bunch of garbage that was used to get a warrant against a Clinton campaign operative, you’d have a little different view of this,” Graham said.
“You would be raising holy hell, and all your friends in the media would be front-page news everywhere: Treason!” Graham continued, raising his voice.
“But it’s [President Donald] Trump, so it’s okay. As long as you’re out to get somebody you need to get [and] damned the way you do it,” the Judiciary Committee chairman noted further.
“Well, this committee is not going to accept that standard, my friend,” Graham added, pounding a finger onto the table. “This committee looked at everything you wanted us to look at in terms of Russian behavior. Did Russia interfere? You better believe they did. Will they do it again? Yes, they will.”
Graham also discounted any notion that Ukraine had anything to do with U.S. election interference or the theft of Clinton’s emails in 2016, though some including President Trump believe that the Clinton campaign had links to Ukrainian officials.
“It was the Russians who have divided the American people in terms of the 2016 campaign. But it wasn’t the Russians, my friend, who withheld information from the FISA court, keeping Carter Page’s life turned upside down,” Graham noted further, referencing the Trump campaign adviser targeted with four surveillance warrants by the FBI despite knowing the Steele dossier was bogus.
“It wasn’t the Russians who refused to tell the court that the underlying dossier that was crucial to the Carter Page warrant was a bunch of garbage,” said Graham. “It wasn’t the Russians who manipulated an email to keep getting a warrant against an American citizen.
“It wasn’t the Russians who withheld information from the court about General [Mike] Flynn [Trump’s first national security adviser] that they were setting him up and out to get him,” an increasingly angry Graham noted.
“It was the Department of Justice, it was the FBI, it was people who hated Trump,” he said. “People with a political bias and an agenda to destroy him before he was elected and after he was elected. And we’re gonna get to the bottom of it.”
“This stinks. This is a sad episode in the history of the FBI,” Graham continued, noting that he would agree to subpoena anyone the Democrats would like to question as well.
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