Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday he believes “a bureaucratic coup” led by enemies of President Trump is taking place at the Justice Department, and the senator asked that a new special counsel be appointed to investigate.
Graham, a veteran member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made the comments on “Fox News Sunday” in response to questions about a report that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein suggested secretly recording Trump and possibly using the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.
Graham said he didn’t favor firing Rosenstein, who has denied the report and said he never advocated for removal of the president. “He shouldn’t fire Rosenstein unless you believe Rosenstein’s lying,” Graham said.
Instead, the senator from South Carolina pointed his finger at others in the department who he said have “tried to destroy this president.” He specifically referred to former FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.
McCabe, a former FBI deputy director, was fired after being accused of making an unauthorized disclosure to the news media. Strzok, who helped lead the FBI inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, lost his job after officials discovered he had been exchanging anti-Trump text messages in 2016 with Page, a lawyer, who has also left the department.
“Before the election, the people in question tried to taint the election, tip it to Clinton’s favor; after the election, they’re trying to undermine the president,” Graham said. He added that he did not know “what Rosenstein did, but I know what McCabe or Page and Strzok did. They tried to destroy this president. If Rosenstein’s involved, he should be fired. If he’s not involved, leave him alone.’’
At the time of his firing, McCabe said the attacks against him were “part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI” that “only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work” investigating whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia.
Graham told Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday that a new special counsel is required to investigate what happened at the FBI, and he called on Rosenstein to appoint one immediately.
“Rosenstein is doing the country a disservice by not appointing a special counsel” to look into FBI actions regarding Trump and Russia, he said.
Democrats have resisted the call for another special counsel to be appointed and ridiculed claims by Trump and his allies that the FBI is tainted by bias.
“The President has claimed a vast conspiracy in his own government against his campaign and Administration,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said over the summer when a Justice Department inspector general’s report was released finding that former FBI director James B. Comey and others failed to follow rules. Durbin noted that “this report found no evidence that political bias affected the FBI’s investigations.” He and other Democrats have repeatedly said complaints of bias are misplaced and seem to be an effort to undermine the inquiry into the Trump campaign and Russia led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.