Lindsey Graham Warns of Conspiracy to 'Shut Down' Inquiry into Russia Probe Origins
South Carolina Republican weighs in on New York Times article
Sen. Lindsey Graham said there is an effort to "shut down" Attorney General William Barr's inquiry into the Russia investigation origin.
"Here's what bothers me tonight. This New York Times article about Barr talking to Australia is the beginning of an effort to shut down Barr's investigation to find out how this whole thing started," Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Republicans have alleged that foreign intelligence could have played a role in spying on the Trump campaign associates in 2016.
"Barr should be talking to Australia. He should be talking to Italy. He should be talking to the U.K. to find out if their intelligence services worked with our intelligence services improperly to open up a counterintelligence investigation of Trump's campaign. If he's not doing that, he's not doing his job," Graham said.
Graham added that he plans to write a letter to all three countries to encourage them to cooperate with Barr.
According to The Washington Examiner: Barr began his inquiry into the FBI's and DOJ's behavior during the 2016 election earlier this year around the same time Mueller completed his investigation.
The attorney general has tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham with leading the effort, and Trump granted Barr "full and complete authority" to declassify information related to the review.
News of Trump's phone call to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison comes amid scrutiny over another phone call that Trump had on July 25 with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
That phone call ended up being a central tenet of an August whistleblower complaint which raised concerns about a possible effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival in the 2020 election contest, by leveraging millions of dollars of security aid.
Although Trump claims there was no quid pro quo, his admission that he did discuss Biden with Zelensky prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce an impeachment inquiry last week.
Graham compared Trump's call to Zelensky to a letter Democratic senators sent in 2018 to the top Ukrainian prosecutor urging him to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.
He claimed they implied that U.S. assistance to Ukraine was at risk, although multiple fact-checkers have determined this to be untrue.
"Democrats wanted the Ukraine to work with Mueller, and if they didn't, they would cut off their aid. It's clear to me that liberals are starting an attack against Barr to shut him down from going to Italy, Australia, and the U.K. to find out if there was something wrong regarding opening up the investigation into the Trump campaign to begin with," Graham said.
"If that's not a double standard, I don't know what would be."
Graham also openly wondered whether the intelligence official who filed the whistleblower complaint and his or her sources might be a focus of Barr's work.
"What about whether or not the whistleblower or people around the whistleblower were tied to the folks that opened up the investigation against Trump, to begin with? We'll see," he said.