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Lindsey Graham Says He’s ‘Hellbent’ on Grilling Robert Mueller After Op-Ed on Roger Stone Clemency

Former special counsel Robert Mueller wrote a high profile op-ed defending his office’s prosecution of Roger Stone and the Russia investigation on Saturday, the day after President Donald Trump commuted Stone’s prison sentence. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) responded to the op-ed on Tuesday by saying he planned to call Mueller to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Appearing on former Congressman Trey Gowdy’s podcast Tuesday, Chairman Graham said that he was “hellbent on making sure that somebody investigates the investigators,” adding that Mueller had brought it upon himself by “deciding to interject himself into the Roger Stone case.”

Graham said he didn’t “blame the president at all” for commuting Stone’s prison sentence because of the “circumstances” surrounding the case, and further reasoned that if Mueller wanted to speak about the Stone prosecution, then he should also be ready to testify about the Carter Page warrant application.

“I want [Mueller] to comment on basically what did he have to suggest there was collusion between campaign operatives and the Russian government on August 17, 2017. He has a lot to account for and we’ll see how he does,” Graham said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman then previewed his line of questioning for the former special counsel, saying it would largely be based on Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s 2019 report on the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the Trump campaign.

“We know that that the Crossfire Hurricane was probably one of the most corrupt investigation since J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI,” Graham said, adding that the report “exposed all kinds of troubling problems.”

Graham, as a basis for questioning Mueller, specifically called out the FBI’s reliance on the “Steele Dossier” in obtaining FISA warrants to surveil Page.

“What I want to know from Mr. Mueller is what evidence did you have that Carter Page was a Russian agent colluding with the Russian government as part of the campaign of Donald Trump,” Graham said.

While the IG’s report certainly rebuked the FBI for failing to follow proper procedures in their FISA warrant applications, the report also concluded that such failures were illustrative of a widespread problem throughout the bureau and were in not politically motivated. The report stated that the IG “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page.”

Additionally, three of the four FISA warrant applications were submitted prior to Mueller’s May 2017 appointment as special counsel, with the fourth and final application being submitted in June.

“January 4, 2017, the FBI agent in charge of Crossfire Hurricane [Michael] Flynn component, recommended that General Flynn be dropped from the investigation. That’s the professional side of the house saying ‘we can’t find anything to suggest that Flynn is a Russian agent,” Graham said.

The South Carolina senator then said he wanted to know what Mueller believed about Flynn and whether Mueller knew that there had been a recommendation in Jan. 2017 that the investigation against him be dropped.

Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein the day after the New York Times reported that Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to shut down the investigation into Flynn and well after the FBI interviewed Flynn about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Graham also told Gowdy that he planned to lead an effort to declassify a 40-page memo detailing an interview between the FBI and one of the primary sources used by former British agent Christopher Steele in compiling the Steele Dossier.

“My staff has finally got to look at it. It’s classified. I’m going to try to get it unclassified,” Graham said.

Also on Tuesday, John Dowd, President Trump’s former attorney in the Mueller probe, called for U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate former Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann.

“Weissman and his dream team failed in their first attempt to manufacture a crime and want to further abuse the process when their sorry effort has been exposed,” Dowd told The Washington Times. “The Stone indictment did not allege a crime by President Trump. So why further abuse the process except more sour grapes.”

[image via Mario Tama/Getty Images

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.