Gra­ham wants spe­cial coun­sel to turn fo­cus on in­ves­ti­ga­tors

Tes­ti­mony sug­gests bias


Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham called Thurs­day for Congress to cre­ate a spe­cial coun­sel to probe the FBI and Jus­tice De­part­ment, say­ing ev­i­dence is mount­ing that they treated Hil­lary Clin­ton more le­niently than they did Pres­i­dent Trump dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cam­paign.

Mr. Gra­ham made the call as newly re­leased doc­u­ments show the ex­tent of anti-Trump sen­ti­ment among FBI em­ploy­ees who were in­stru­men­tal in han­dling the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mrs. Clin­ton’s se­cret email server and in launch­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion that turned into Robert Mueller’s spe­cial coun­sel probe.

The doc­u­ments re­leased this week — transcripts of in­ter­views from fired FBI agent Peter Str­zok and for­mer FBI lawyer Lisa Page — show they were de­ter­mined to pre­vent Mr. Trump from be­com­ing pres­i­dent and had im­peach­ment on their minds once he did take of­fice.

Mr. Gra­ham took to the Se­nate floor to say Mr. Mueller has had his chance to deal with Mr. Trump

and now it’s time to turn the mi­cro­scope the other way. He said he will in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate an­other spe­cial coun­sel for that pur­pose.

“There’s more than smok­ing guns here. There’s over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence that some­body out­side the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem should look into,” the South Carolina Repub­li­can said.

The Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion ap­pears to be com­ing to an end, and Democrats are try­ing to make sure the find­ings are pub­lic.

The Demo­crat-led House ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion Thurs­day morn­ing urg­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr to re­lease Mr. Mueller’s fi­nal re­port. The res­o­lu­tion passed on a 420-0 vote.

But when Se­nate Democrats tried to raise it in the up­per cham­ber, Mr. Gra­ham ob­jected. He said he would have al­lowed it if Democrats, in ex­change, sup­ported the spe­cial coun­sel he wants. But Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Demo­crat, re­fused.

“We let [Robert] Mueller look at all things Trump re­lated to col­lu­sion and oth­er­wise. Some­body needs to look at what hap­pened on the other side and find out whether the FBI and the DOJ had two sys­tems — one sup­port­ing the per­son they wanted to win, and one out to get the per­son they wanted to lose,” he said.

In re­marks to The Her­itage Foun­da­tion, Mr. Gra­ham said his com­mit­tee will hold hear­ings on bias at the FBI and the Jus­tice De­part­ment.

“Did they take what was ap­par­ently a mole­hill of ev­i­dence against Trump to open up an in­ves­ti­ga­tion as an in­sur­ance pol­icy in case he won? I don’t know, but what I’ve heard both­ers the hell out of me,” he said.

Mr. Gra­ham said the Se­nate specif­i­cally will get to the bot­tom of whether the bureau mis­led judges when it ob­tained a For­eign In­tel­li­gence Surveil­lance Act war­rant to spy on Trump cam­paign fig­ure Carter Page.

“I prom­ise ev­ery­body in the coun­try that in the Se­nate, we’re go­ing to have hear­ings about the FISA process,” he said.

Mr. Gra­ham said the hear­ings will fo­cus on how the FBI ob­tained the war­rant us­ing a sala­cious, un­ver­i­fied dossier writ­ten by for­mer Bri­tish spy Christo­pher Steele. The dossier is full of un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims about Mr. Trump’s ties to Rus­sia.

The FBI used the dossier as part of its ar­gu­ment to the court to ob­tain the surveil­lance war­rant on Mr. Page, and used it in sub­se­quent re­newals of the war­rant.

The dossier claims Mr. Page met with Rus­sian of­fi­cials with ties to Krem­lin strong­man Vladimir Putin dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign. Mr. Page has ve­he­mently de­nied the claim. It also claims long­time Trump fixer Michael Co­hen met with Rus­sians in the Czech Repub­lic to co­or­di­nate plans — a charge he has de­nied even since turn­ing against Mr. Trump.

Repub­li­cans have claimed the FBI has failed to dis­close that the dossier’s au­thor was be­ing funded by the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and the Clin­ton cam­paign as op­po­si­tion re­search.

The dossier, along with texts be­tween Mr. Str­zok and Ms. Page, are among the Repub­li­cans’ top ev­i­dence for mis­con­duct at the FBI and Jus­tice De­part­ment.

The House Ju­di­ciary and Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form com­mit­tees, when they were con­trolled last year by Repub­li­cans, called in Mr. Str­zok and Ms. Page to give tes­ti­mony about their own be­hav­ior.

Those transcripts were se­cret un­til this week, when Rep. Doug Collins of Ge­or­gia, now the rank­ing Repub­li­can on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, in­serted them into the Con­gres­sional Record.

In a tran­script re­leased Thurs­day, Mr. Str­zok said his fa­vor­able opin­ion of Mrs. Clin­ton did not in­flu­ence the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her use of her home server to send clas­si­fied emails.

But he ac­knowl­edged that Mrs. Clin­ton was not a tar­get, sub­ject or sus­pect dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. In­stead, in­ves­ti­ga­tors viewed her as “a crit­i­cal player.”

He also dis­puted as­ser­tions that his texts to Ms. Page showed an­i­mus to­ward Mr. Trump — though his mem­ory didn’t jibe with that of Ms. Page, with whom he was hav­ing an adul­ter­ous af­fair at the time.

She tes­ti­fied that a text she sent to Mr. Str­zok telling him the Trump in­ves­ti­ga­tion would save the coun­try from a “men­ace” re­ferred to Mr. Trump. Mr. Str­zok told the com­mit­tee that he thought the men­ace was Rus­sia.

Mr. Str­zok also dis­puted the mean­ing of the now-fa­mous text in which Ms. Page fret­ted Mr. Trump would win the elec­tion. The for­mer G-man re­sponded “No. No he won’t We’ll stop it.”

This has been widely taken to mean the FBI would do what it had to do to pre­vent a Trump vic­tory. Mr. Str­zok said in his tes­ti­mony that he didn’t re­call writ­ing the text, but he added that he be­lieves the “we” he meant were the Amer­i­can vot­ers.

“My an­swer ‘no’ was my per­sonal be­lief that I did not think he would be,” the fired agent said. He later added, “My best sense look­ing at this text that I didn’t re­call un­til I read it very re­cently was that ‘we’ is my be­lief that the Amer­i­can peo­ple — there is no way that they’re go­ing to elect him.

“What it is not is any state­ment that I would ever con­sider, let alone take any of­fi­cial ac­tion, to im­pact the pres­i­dency of the United States,” he said.


Transcripts of in­ter­views from fired FBI agent Peter Str­zok show the FBI and Jus­tice De­part­ment treated Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump much dif­fer­ently.

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