Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday that Congress would “flex its muscle” and issue a subpoena if FBI Director James Comey did not respond to his request to say whether the agency is investigating President Trump’s unsubstantiated wiretapping claims as well as possible ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
“If it’s not true, just tell me it’s not true,” Graham said on NBC’s “Today,” speaking about the potential investigation and Trump’s evidence-free claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the election.
“Why is it taking so long to get the answer?” he asked.
He made the comments during a round of morning interviews, which also included MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and CNN’s “New Day.” Graham said he and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., in their capacity as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, met with Comey two weeks ago and gave him until Wednesday to answer whether or not his agency is investigating links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The reason, Graham said, is that the committee does not want its congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the election to run up against a possible criminal investigation. Graham emphasized multiple times that he personally likes Comey.
On “New Day,” he said that while he thus far had no reason to suspect collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, “The longer it takes to answer my letter, the more concerned and suspicious I’m beginning to be.”
Graham also delivered a fierce defense of the congressional investigation into Russia’s presidential election interference on “Morning Joe.” The U.S. intelligence community accused the Kremlin of backing the cyberattacks that led to WikiLeaks publishing politically toxic emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. Reports have indicated that federal officials have probed ties between Trump associates and Russia.
“Russia’s trying to break the back of democracy all over the world,” Graham began. “They’re trying to destroy NATO, the European Union, alliances that have kept the world a safe place, and Russia’s an autocratic dictatorship that kills everything they don’t like when it comes to scrutinizing Putin, and it is in our national security interest to punish people who interfere in our election. It was Democrats today; it could be Republicans in the next election.”
Though the interviews mostly focused on Russia, the House Republicans’ proposed Obamacare replacement legislation was also on the docket. On “Today” Graham was asked if the bill was “dead on arrival,” to which he responded, “It’s mortally wounded; I don’t know if it’s died yet.”
He also offered some political advice for the White House: “Here’s what I hope the president would do: Try to get a good bill. If you can’t, let Obamacare collapse and challenge the Democrats to help him fix a problem they created.” Trump himself has publicly mused about a similar idea.
During his appearance on “Morning Joe,” Graham was also asked for his thoughts on Trump’s 2005 federal income tax return, which was partially revealed on MSNBC Tuesday. The filing showed the president made about $150 million and paid about $38 million.
“Next time we have dinner, he’s paying, is my first reaction.”
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