Lindsey Graham uses Barr hearing to rant about Hillary; admits he hasn't read Mueller report

Senate Judiciary chair admits he hasn't read full Mueller report, then veers into Trumpian talking points

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published May 1, 2019 3:30PM (EDT)

Lindsey Graham (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Lindsey Graham (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,  kicked off Wednesday’s hearing with Attorney General Bill Barr by admitting he hasn’t read special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report, making several false statements about it, and then ranting about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton.

Graham began his opening statement by showing his copy of the partially redacted Mueller report.

“Can’t say I’ve read it all, but I’ve read most of it,” Graham said. “There’s an unredacted version over in the classified section of the Senate, a room where you can go look at the unredacted version. I did that and found it not to change anything in terms of an outcome.”

Graham then proceeded to lie about the report that he had not fully read.

“No collusion, no coordination, no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government regarding the 2016 election,” Graham announced. “As to obstruction of justice, Mr. Mueller left it to Mr. Barr to decide. After two years and all this time, he said, 'Mr. Barr, you decide.' Mr. Barr did.”

There is no evidence Mueller asked Barr to decide anything and Barr said as much in his last congressional testimony last month. The report states that Justice Department guidelines preclude Mueller from indicting the president and goes on to say that only Congress has the constitutional authority to determine whether to prosecute the president. The report specifically says that “if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

MSNBC cut away from the live hearing to fact-check Graham’s other false remarks.

"We're reluctant to do this, we rarely do, but what the chairman of the Judiciary Committee just said, that Mueller found there was no collusion, that is not correct," said anchor Brian Williams. "The report says collusion is not a thing they considered. It doesn't exist in federal code."

After the interruption, Graham proceeded to use the hearing, which comes a day after the Washington Post reported that Mueller sent a letter to Barr objecting to his summary of the report, to invoke Hillary Clinton and complain about anti-Trump bias within the FBI.

“We know that the person in charge of investigating hated Trump’s guts," Graham said. "I don’t know how Mr. Mueller felt about Trump but I don’t think anybody on our side believes that he had a personal animosity toward the president to the point he couldn’t do his job.” This flies in the face of hundreds of Trump tweets and statements baselessly accusing Mueller of running a biased witch hunt.

Graham was referring to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server and was briefly on Mueller’s team before he was fired after his critical text messages about Trump to FBI colleague Lisa Page were reported.

“These are the people that made a decision that [Hillary] Clinton didn’t do anything wrong and that counterintelligence of the Trump campaign was warranted,” Graham said.

Graham went on to recite a bit very similar to one that Trump has used on the campaign trail to accuse Clinton of a cover-up.

“There was a protective order for the server issued by the House and there was a request by the State Department to preserve all the information on the server. Paul Combetta, after having the protective order, used a software program called BleachBit to wipe this email server clean,” Graham said. “Eighteen devices possessed by Secretary Clinton she used to do business as secretary. How many of them were turned over to the FBI? None. Two of them couldn’t be turned over because Judith Casper took a hammer and destroyed two of them. What happened to her? Nothing.”

As The Washington Post reported, the reality of the situation was far less nefarious than Graham made it sound.

Graham said that the committee “might” review the email case and vowed to investigate the FBI’s investigation. Graham even read some of the texts that Strzok and Page exchanged.

“‘Just went to the southern Virginia Walmart, I could smell the Trump support,'” Graham read.

“October the 19th, 2016: ‘Trump is a f*cking idiot, he’s unable to provide a coherent answer,'” he said, adding, “sorry to the kids out there.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh