U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham talks to a reporter as he arrives at Capitol Hill in Washington U.S. on May 10, 2016.
Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Graham turns focus to Clinton email probe, draws Democratic mockery

Updated

Given the severity of the scandals surrounding Donald Trump’s presidency, there’s plenty of important oversight for the Senate Judiciary Committee to go over the next couple of years. The panel, however, now has a new chairman – White House ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – who has some of his own ideas about the committee’s agenda.

The South Carolina Republican, who’ll seek re-election next year, has begun sketching out an agenda for the committee, and as The Hill  reported yesterday, it includes examination of “the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.”

For the record, I double-checked the date on the piece. It was published yesterday, not months ago. It really is 2019, and the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee really is interested in an official examination – which is to say, another official examination – of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and Republican conspiracy theories about Carter Page.

Democratic senators on the panel responded in an interesting way: with mockery.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), asked about Graham’s plans, started laughing and compared them to the “thrilling days of yesteryear.”

“This is going to be like the History Channel it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton,” Durbin told The Hill.

Durbin said he was “concerned” about Graham’s plans but quipped that “you know there is that question about Jimmy Carter which he probably wants to ask.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), another member of the panel, said maybe Graham should “investigate Benghazi some more too” – an apparent reference to a years-long House probe that Democrats considered a political stunt.

The derision is understandable. The Senate Judiciary Committee is a powerful and important panel, and perhaps its chairman will be more responsible if his partisan plans are made to look ridiculous.

That said, none of this should come as a surprise: Graham told us what to expect.

It was just five months ago when the GOP senator told Roll Call that he’s “appalled” by the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s emails, adding, “I promise you that the people who put the Clinton investigation in the tank, they’re going to have their day too…. There’s a good chance I’ll be Judiciary chairman if we hold the Senate next year. If I’m Judiciary chairman? Stay tuned.”

A report from the Justice Department inspector general’s office has already made clear that Graham’s concerns are baseless, and there’s still no evidence to bolster Republican conspiracy theories on this or Carter Page surveillance.

Evidently, Lindsey Graham intends to pursue these lines of inquiry anyway.