Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News on Thursday that now that special counsel has been appointed to investigate alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Congress should abandon their own investigations and go back to focusing on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“I don’t know what caused the appointment. I haven’t seen any evidence of a crime yet. The bottom line is I respect the decision, but this pretty much shuts Congress down,” Graham said. “Democrats, you got what you wanted. You got a special counsel. Now we’ll just move on. We’re not prosecutors.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that Graham thinks all of Congress’ investigations should stop.
“There’s a new front opening here. I have reason to believe that there are emails between Clinton campaign officials, democratic operatives to the Department of Justice regarding the Clinton email investigation that happened on Obama’s watch. I have reason to believe those emails exist,” Graham said. “I’m on the Judiciary Committee. And I think it’s important that the Judiciary Committee be given any emails that were directed to the Department of Justice by Clinton campaign officials or operatives because we have jurisdiction over the Department of Justice.”
Graham added that he had not seen the emails, and did not elaborate on why he said he had “reason to believe” they exist.
Democratic lawmakers have long agitated for an independent prosecutor to be brought in to oversee the case. The head of the DOJ, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was one of Trump’s first and most loyal supports, and Trump also appointed his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein became the head of the investigation when Sessions recused himself, as he too may be under investigation as part of the Trump campaign.
Up through Mueller’s appointment, the prevailing GOP line was that the congressional investigations alone would be sufficient to reach the truth. Both investigations were led by lawmakers with deep ties to the Trump campaign.
After Mueller’s appointment, those in charge of the congressional investigations have shown no signs that they intend to abandon them — though Senator Cornyn, speaking to reporters on Thursday, echoed Graham and said he wouldn’t want the congressional investigation to “impede” Mueller’s.
Graham’s statement is also a dramatic about-face for the senator. At a CNN town hall in May, Graham said that he would support the appointment of a special prosecutor.
“There may be nothing there,” Graham said. “But if there is something there that the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor.”