tv Sen. Judiciary Cmte. Chair Lindsey Graham on the Mueller Report CSPAN March 25, 2019 3:22pm-3:53pm EDT
its nonpartisan coverage of washington is sponsored by your cable or satellite provider, on television and online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government so you can make up your own mind. >> earlier today, the chair of the senate judiciary committee, lindsey graham, held a news conference to discuss some of the findings of the mueller report. this is half an hour. senator graham: here's the deal. we'll have about 30, 40 minutes together, and you won't ambush me every five minutes in the hall. deal? i tried. the mueller report is complete. i have a phone call with attorney general barr at noon about what's next. what's next i hope will be that he'll come to the committee,
release as much as possible of the mueller report. one of the things that can't be released, grand jury information is employee hibted -- prohibited by law from being released because it would compromise the grand jury process. he in his letter to me and senator feinstein and others said that he's asking the special counsel team to help him with the information that may be covered by the grand jury statute. classified information, don't know how much if any, that would be something you would have to think about. and pretty much if the administration claims executive privilege about anything in the report, that would be something i'm sure he would consider and we'll find out what the determinations are there. those are sort of the broad outlines, in my view, of the limitations of sharing the information with the public. my desire is for the public to get as much of the report as possible consistent with the outlines of the concerns i announced. as to my relationship with the
special counsel inquiry, august 3, 2017 i introduced legislation special counsel independence protection act with senators booker, coons and tillis. at that time there was live chatter by the president and others about mueller being on a witch-hunt, and that chatter continued. i just wanted the public to know that i believe that pecial counsels now and in the future should be protected to the extent possible. the reason introduced the legislation as a republican is to let people in south carolina and the country know that i thought mr. mueller was not on a witch-hunt and that mr. mueller was highly qualified and the right guy to pick to deal with such a difficult issue. as to mr. mueller, on march 14, 2018, the only reason that mr.
mueller could be dismissed is for cause. i see no cause when it comes to mr. mueller. he needs to be able to do his job independent of any political influence. i pledged to the american people as a republican to make sure that mr. mueller can continue to do his job without any interference. november, 2018, i'm confident the mueller investigation will be allowed to come to a solid conclusion that there be no political influence put on mr. mueller by mr. whitaker, at the time, to do anything other than mr. mueller's job. and i'm confident that mr. mueller will be allowed to do his job without interference. january, 2019, since his appointment i have supported special counsel mueller's ability to conduct this investigation without nterference. where the report's over it was completed without interference and from the day that mr. mueller was appointed, i felt
that he was the right guy at the right time for the american people to give us a definitive answer about whether or not the trump campaign or anyone associated with it worked with the russians in an improper fashion in the 2016 election. it's clear to me from the four-page summary by attorney general barr that the russians did, in fact, hack into the d.n.c. the podesta emails, it was the russians, it wasn't some 300-pound guy sitting on a bed somewhere. the conclusion was firm, without equivocation, that no one on the trump campaign colluded with the russians when it came to the 2016 election. as to the obstruction of justice matter, apparently the special counsel gave some of this and some of that and mr. barr and rosenstein concluded that the evidence was insufficient to move forward on
obstruction of justice by the president or anyone around his team. i hope soon to have as much of the report released as possible. and what happens next? what happens next is that i have been talking since 2017, end of 2017, about the other side of the story. nobody much appears to care but i hope you will find some interest now. that the fisa warrant issued against carter page based on a ossier prepared by christopher steele is at a minimum disturbing. whether or not it's illegal, don't yet know. i'm going to get answers to this. if no one else cares, it seems to be republicans do, and i said, if the shoe were on the other foot it would be
front-page news all over the world. the double standard here has been striking and quite frankly disappointing. i am 100% convinced if the republican party had hired mr. steele to go to russia and investigate clinton and the report was prepared and given to the department of justice, used to get a warrant against a clinton associate and the underlying information in the dossier proved to be garbage, everybody in the world would have it on the front page, it would be endless chatter on the cable networks. i'm also convinced that the agents involved in investigating clinton, if the shoe were on the other foot, hated her and wanted trump to win, we'd be having a thorough discussion.
i'm also convinced if they interview trump with a couple of his associates there not under oath, and already made up a decision not to charge him, that there would be outrage in this country. so the rule of law applies both to republicans and democrats. why do we have a special counsel? in rare circumstances to have somebody outside the department of justice to take a look at a hot topic. i know the president did not believe that a special counsel should have been appointed. i do. it was clear to me that jeff sessions was part of the trump campaign. when it came time to look at whether or not the trump campaign did anything wrong with the russians, it's impossible for jeff sessions to ender a verdict because he was part of the campaign.
that made imminent sense to me then and now. what makes no sense to me is that all of the abuse by the department of justice and the f.b.i., the unprofessional conduct, the shady behavior, nobody seems to think that's much important. well, that's going to change, i hope. i have been calling since the end of 2017 for a special ounsel to be appointed to look at whether or not the fisa warrant process was abused for political purposes. whether or not a counterintelligence investigation was opened up regarding the trump campaign as backdoor to spy on the campaign. i still to this day, at a loss to explain why nobody went to president trump to tell him there may be some people in your orbit connected to the russians and working with the ussians. counterintelligence
investigation is designed to protect the entity being targeted by a foreign power. dianne feinstein's case she had somebody working with her that the f.b.i. suspected of having a inappropriate relationship with the government of china. they told dianne about it and she let the guy go. that's the way it's supposed to work. how did it fail and break down ere? was it a ruse to get into the rump campaign? i don't know, but i'm going to try to find out. as to the clinton email disposition, why did comey do what he did? why did he take over the nvestigation in july, make a statement that she did a lot of bad things but not quite a crime? that did affect this election. if the shoe were on the other
foot, republicans would have been pretty mad about that. what was the conflict that made loretta lynch so unable to preside over the clinton email investigation? was it just a tarmac meeting, or was it more? i believe there was more there. and i intend to get to there. how could in october, right before the election, we find out that emails on the clinton server wind up in the hands of anthony weiner, and just within 48 hours everybody's good to go? this is bizarre at best. troubling to its core from my point of view. so mr. mueller has been given a chance to do his job. wo years, 19 lawyers, 40 f.b.i. agents, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 people interviewed, 230 orders for communication
records, 13 requests to foreign overnments for evidence, $25 million or more. that is what happened to the trump campaign. and i have been ok with that scrutiny from day one. when it comes to the fisa warrant, the clinton campaign, the counterintelligence investigation it's pretty much been swept under the rug except y a few republicans in the house. those days are over. going forward, hopefully in a bipartisan fashion, we'll begin to unpack the other side of the story. ith that i'll take questions. reporter: the special council on the issue of -- counsel on the issue of obstruction of justice. mueller has designed to fully exonerate the president. senator graham: lawyers are not in the exoneration business. they are into making cases or
not making cases. all i can tell you when it comes to obstruction of justice, mr. arr and rosenstein concluded that the facts did not justify a charge. not the idea you can't indict a sitting president. and his memo mr. barr was about statute. it's very problematic to bring an obstruction case in my view from making a personnel decision. if you fired a u.s. attorney somewhere, does that lead to an obstruction argument because you have a political difference with that attorney general who is not serving your agenda? what mr. barr said at the hearing was that nobody, including the president, can get a witness to lie. nobody including the president can conceal information from a court. those are classic obstruction activities. mr. mueller apparently could not find sufficient evidence to conclude on his own that the
president obstructed justice in classic sense, and mr. barr said, alone with mr. rosenstein, having looked at the evidence we do not believe there is evidence to support a charge of obstruction of justice. nd it is important but not dispositive that the underlying crime did not exist. ou can actually obstruct justice even if there is not a crime, but the intent really does go to whether or not somebody's trying to protect themselves. if they did nothing wrong to begin with, it's pretty hard to prove obstruction of justice. reporter: was it appropriate for bob mueller to essentially punt on the issue of obstruction and leave it to the president's two top appointees at the justice department to make this determination? senator graham: as far as i'm concerned, mr. mueller's report gave the attorney general, both sides of the equation, he decided, not mr. barr, to give hat decision over to the
attorney general. you can ask him. from my point of view what mr. barr and mr. rosenstein did was very appropriate. somebody has to decide. nd the attorney general is not conflicted, he was not part of the campaign, so the big thing for me, guys, has always been did trump work with the russians? and i told him to his face almost two years ago, if you did, that's it between me and you and anything that follows you deserve. i will say that about any politician of any party. and here's what we know two years later. fter an exhaustive examination of the facts in this case by somebody that every american should trust, mr. mueller, the
answer is no. reporter: what about is there any daylight as democrats have suggested between what the mueller report may say and what barr's memo says? secondarily, isn't there a question because of the change in the statute in 1999, the purview that mueller had that he may have been restricted in how far he could go and thus ave to defer to barr because the special counsel is under the aegis of the department of justice unlike the independent counsel statute when ken starr had more leeway? senator graham: all i can say about mr. mueller's report, he looked at obstruction of justice. he didn't say anything that i know of about i can't get there from here because of legal bars. here's the pot of evidence on one side. here's the pot of evidence on he other side. it's complicated legally, it's complicated statutorily, this is our view of what happened. we'll defer you to make that decision. i'm absolutely ok with that. mr. barr, hopefully, will come
before the committee and we can ask him questions. reporter: you brought up jeff session's clear conflict of interest. you appeared at a rousing speech at mar-a-lago over the weekend. does that not give an appearance of conflict of interest given your role in chairing the judiciary committee? senator graham: you have to be kidding. did anybody ever ask during the clinton impeachment that a democrat was conflicted on speaking out on behalf of the president? i am an elected political official. i am a republican. i'm going all over the country to speak to the republican party. i want trump to win. i'm chairman of the judiciary committee. i do my job very responsibly. this committee is going to allow mr. barr to come forward and tell us and answer some of the questions you have asked. i'm asking him to lay it all out. i stood by mr. mueller because i believe in the rule of
law. there's politics and there's the rule of law. to suggest that you are a republican and want trump to win, somehow you can't do your job is absurd. reporter: you also golf with him, though. senator graham: i played erribly. reporter: you were involved in the clinton impeachment saga back in the 1990's. your party later suffered at the polls for its focus on that nd other investigations. you know across the building democrats are mulling what to do next. what would be your advice to them? senator graham: learn from my mistakes. let's go back to the 1990's. it started out about financial misdeeds and basically enriching oneself. it wound up being about an improper relationship. sexual harassment lawsuits are always about sex. the question was did the president in a sexual harassment lawsuit basically
bend the rules of the court to help himself? he was suspended for five years for inappropriate conduct as a lawyer. he was chastised for lying under oath. having said that, looking back, the public sort of knew what they were getting with bill clinton. i think the public sort of knows what they are getting with donald trump. and here's my advice to the democratic party, pursue what you think is important to the public, but if you keep going fter mueller spoke, people are going to think you are just out to get him. that there is no right answer other than donald trump must be removed from office. and you'll probably suffer the same fate we did as having gone too far. reporter: just to clarify, you say you want barr to testify? how about mr. mueller? senator graham: i'll leave that
p to mr. barr as to whether or not he thinks that would be helpful. i don't know the answer to that about the special counsel himself. let's start with mr. barr who is in charge of the department of justice. the truth is i want you to know as much as you possibly can know. this is a very big deal from my point of view it was a great day for the president in terms of the underlying allegation. but now i'm hoping some of you will be interested in the other side of the story. reporter: you said what is the public getting with donald trump? if you could clarify. you once called someone like paul manafort a political isaster. you said essentially the political winds might change. have they changed? senator graham: i think president trump pardoned nybody in his orbit it would not play well. as to what people are getting
with donald trump, i think it's pretty clear like bill clinton, donald trump is a larger than ife character. people are focused on what he's doing for them. i think people would be legitimately concerned if he did, in fact, his campaign, worked with the russians. i'll say this, if mr. barr had reached a different conclusion and he reported that there is evidence of trump coordination with the russians, i would have believed it, i would have listened to the president, but that would have been a bad day for the country. i'll end with this and take a couple more questions. to those wanting an outcome of removing trump, you got to be isappointed. to those who wanted somebody to look at trump without interference, you got to be pleased. to those who are happy that your president has been cleared of working with a foreign power, i think you are a good merican. reporter: to clarify.
when you say you want barr in front of the committee. public hearing? senator graham: as public as ossible. reporter: when you say see you soon, james comey, does that mean you'll call him before the committee before a public hearing? senator graham: what was the whole forest thing about? hat i'll do, just real quickly, i'll start and work backwards. the fisa warrant application on four different occasions, what role did the dossier play? was it the primary source of the information given to the court? supplemental, outcome determinative? i want to hear from mr. ore why he warned people you may not want to rely on christopher steele. i want to know the role comey played in this process. want to find out was the only reason you recused yourself was because of the tarmac meeting with loretta lynch? i want to find out what were the rules of a
counterintelligence investigation? what kind of defensive briefing did you give to the candidate if any at all? those are the questions i want to know about. reporter: senator graham, are you willing to have people come before the pete committee in these separate areas? have you talked to senator feinstein about it? senator graham: there are a lot of these people have testified efore. ut now the report's behind us, i think it's important to find out what happened f it takes a subpoena, we'll do that. reporter: where do you see now that this report is behind us, the country going in terms of ivisiveness? is it just going to keep going? are you seeing any chance for things improving? how do you see the divisiveness issue? senator graham: i'm having a judiciary committee tomorrow about red flag legislation. allowing law enforcement officers to go to court to get a protective order to take
someone's gun away they believe is a danger to themselves and others. we still need to govern the country. i'm sure they'll keep doing things in the house about financial transactions of the president, i guess. i'm going to do the fisa deep dive, the counterintelligence deep dive, and try to find common ground on prescription drugs. my advice to the president, for whatever it's worth, is that you're probably stronger today than you have been any time in your presidency. this cloud has been removed. mr. mueller definitively answered the question and idea about the two things hanging over your head, particularly collusion with the russians. the question for you is, how do you use it? what are you going to do? i can understand being upset. i can understand being put upon. a lot of people in your orbit had their lives turned upside-down. my advice to the president is, one, i don't need your advice about what i should do. 'm going to look at the fisa abuse process, the fisa warrant process. i'm going to o do it working with democrats, i hope. if i were you, mr. president, i would focus on what's next for
the country. reporter: just to clarify on he point of obstruction, you were satisfied with the attorney general's review of the evidence. you don't think your committee should look at that? what's the remedy for that? senator graham: we are not prosecutors. there is a reason you don't want politicians prosecuting other politicians. reporter: the attorneys on your committee reach a different conclusion, is there a remedy? senator graham: we're political people. we're not prosecutors. there is a good reason you wouldn't want a bunch of politicians prosecuting other politicians. mr. barr was appointed by the president, confirmed by the senate. the judiciary's goal is to provide oversight to watch those who watch us. i'm not into the prosecuting business. i'm into the oversight business. i believe that donald trump got scrutiny like nobody else in the history of the presidency since nixon, probably. and he, in my view, came out of this thing stronger.
to those who were abusive of the process in 2016 on the other side, you haven't had much scrutiny, but that's coming. reporter: many republicans and the president saying no conclusion with him and his campaign. but i want to get back to the russians. is it your belief the russians were -- senator graham: absolutely. reporter: individual members of the trump campaign? senator graham: they were out to get us all. here's what i told trump. for whatever it's worth. i think the dossier, a lot of it came from the russian intelligence service. if you just think russia just likes trump and hates clinton, you are missing point of what they are trying to do. hey are trying to divide all of us against each other and have done a good job of it. they are still at it, by the way. hey are still doing this and one of the things i want to take away from this whole endeavor is to try to find ways to fix it. critical infrastructure before this debate was power companies, financial services,
now it's got to be the political system. parties need to realize that hey are subject to being attacked. that the vote tallying process needs to be hardened. hat the social media outlets that we all rely upon and enrich our lives can be co-opted to spread lies, to pit one american against the other. f we don't take that from this investigation that the russians tried to do it and they are going to keep trying, then we missed a real big point. one more question. reporter: you said you wanted the fisa process investigated. are you talking to barr, attorney general barr, and what is he saying? senator graham: what i want to do is see if he'll appoint a special counsel. i fully realize that the oversight role of the committee is legitimate, but we're republicans. hey are democrats. i'd like to find somebody like
a mr. mueller that could look into what happened with the fisa warrant, what happened with counterintelligence investigation. am i right to be concerned? seems pretty bad on its face, but somebody like a mr. mueller to look at that so that if nobody else, those who believe that the f.b.i. and the department of justice were playing politics, that they wanted clinton to win and trump to lose, that somebody can atisfy them, that that was looked at, there are some people who are never going to accept the mueller report, what i say, or what mr. barr does. but by any reasonable standard mr. mueller thoroughly investigated the trump campaign. you cannot say that about the other side of the story. hat i hope mr. barr will do is understand for the country's sake appoint somebody outside the current system to look into these allegations.
somebody we all trust, and let them do what mr. mueller did. reporter: were you on the golf course yesterday with the president, were you there when he got the news? senator graham: i was at the -- waiting to get on air force one when i got it. he was at mar-a-lago and it came out about 3:00. between the time that our office got it and you got it couldn't have been a couple minutes. i saw him on the plane afterwards. i don't know how to explain this. you have been under extreme crutiny, shouting to the mountaintop, i didn't do this. a sense of relief. sense of frustration. how could this happen? are those who did it going to get away with it? and i hope some new energy, too, that will lead to, ok, now the legitimacy to my election didn't have before.
let's go on about governing the country. last question. reporter: people you consider, andrew mccabe, who else would you be looking o? senator graham: establish a record of how much did the democratic party pay fusion g.p.s. how much money did they give to mr. steil? how could bruce's wife work for fusion g.p.s. while he was the number four at d.o.j.? ask a question, is the dossier verified to this day? it's my belief that the information in the dossier is unverified to this very day. mr. cohen did not go to prague. the fallacious material in the
dossier is just about a bunch of garbage. i think generated by russians who are trying to undercut our democracy. so i will be doing oversight to try to put this puzzle together, and don't know what mr. barr will do. but i think because of the emotional nature of all this that somebody like mr. mueller needs to look at the fisa warrant, the other stuff. thank you very much. >> you can read the summary of the mueller report at our website c-span.org. white counselor kellyanne conway called for house intelligence chair adam schiff to resign for what she said were false claims. this is 20 minutes.