Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday called for a special counsel to probe two scandals involving the IRS and the Justice Department, questioning the Obama administration’s ability to police itself.
On “Fox News Sunday”, Graham said an independent counsel should examine the way the IRS’ applied extra scrutiny to conservative groups and how the Justice Department has been investigating journalists working on stories about national security.
In recent weeks, the administration has acknowledged secretly seizing portions of two months of phone records from The Associated Press and reading the e-mails of Fox News reporter James Rosen in separate investigations about the publication of government secrets.
In the case of Rosen, the Justice Department also tracked his comings and goings from the State Department by monitoring his security badge access records. The Justice Department had considered Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in its investigation into a leak of classified information.
“We are beginning to criminalize journalism and I think that should worry us all,” Graham said.
The president has called for a review of DOJ guidelines. The subpoena for the records was part of a year-long investigation of the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot last year.
Graham and other Republicans have suggested that it is a conflict of interest for Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate how his own department tracked journalists.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Senate majority whip who also appeared on the show, did not bat away the suggestion of a special counsel in the case of the Justice Department. “You’ve raised an important point,” Durbin told Graham.
Regarding the IRS, Graham said that a special counsel is necessary because he believes the White House is intertwined in the scandal.
“This did not accidentally happen,” Graham said. “I think it comes from the top, in terms of tone.”