Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters Monday McCain showed him the dossier when he received it in late 2016.
“And I told him the only thing I knew to do with it, it could be a bunch of garbage, it could be true, who knows? Turn it over to somebody whose job it is to find these things out, and John McCain acted appropriately,” Graham said, according to CNN.
Graham said he “was very direct” with Trump on the issue and told the president McCain “deserves better” than Trump’s recent public attacks on him.
The infamous dossier, compiled for Democrats by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, contains a number of unverified claims about Trump’s alleged Russia connections.
Earlier this month, Trump falsely claimed in a tweet that McCain had “sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election.”
“He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!” Trump said in the tweet.
McCain was not made aware of the Steele dossier until Nov. 18, 2016 — after Trump had won the election. And while McCain himself gave the dossier to the FBI, there is no evidence he gave it to the media.
Former McCain aide David Kramer, a Russia expert, has testified that he gave the dossier to the media in December 2016.
Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.