As the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) may seem like an official who’d want to see the full report on the Russia scandal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. As of yesterday, however, the Republican senator appeared to prefer a far more passive posture.
Graham told CNN’s Manu Raju that he’s not calling for the report’s release, at least in part because he trusts Attorney General Bill Barr. The South Carolinian added that he doesn’t share Democrats’ “paranoia” surrounding the controversy.
Around the same time, Graham published a tweet of his own denouncing Democratic efforts to disclose the document.
“The House Judiciary committee’s demand that Attorney General Barr release the Mueller report – including grand jury testimony and classified information – is dangerous and ridiculous.”
Even at the time, it was neither dangerous nor ridiculous. The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee obviously wouldn’t release classified information to the public, but lawmakers request access to the information as part of its routine oversight.
As for grand jury information, every similar investigation from recent decades – including Watergate and Clinton impeachment, which Graham knows something about – culminated in Congress having access to these materials.
But just as importantly, Graham’s position came before special counsel investigators started sharing their concerns about the attorney general’s purportedly misleading work. Indeed, we learned overnight that Mueller and his team prepared their summaries, which were ready to be released to the public, but which Barr decided to keep under wraps, preferring to release his own characterizations of the Mueller report.
What was that Graham was saying about “paranoia”?
Law professor Orin Kerr recently raised a memorable point: “Imagine if the Starr Report had been provided only to President Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno, who then read it privately and published a 4-page letter based on her private reading stating her conclusion that President Clinton committed no crimes.”
Then imagine what Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham would say about his interest in reviewing the materials for himself.