Influential Sen. Lindsey Graham said he expects May hearings into allegations former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice ordered the unmasking of names of associates of President Donald Trump and compared her denials to the purposefully wrong claims that the Benghazi embassy attack in 2012 was caused by an anti-Islam video.
The South Carolina senator said, “I’m not going to prejudge. But I know, do know during Benghazi which you’re well aware of, that she started the storyline of a protest caused by a video. It was always a terrorist attack on day one. They manipulated the information, I think for political reason.”
Graham said that in Intelligence Committee hearings into the scandal he expects key intelligence officials will be called in a bid to figure out what happened when Trump officials were spied on in a probe of Russia.
The following is from his conversation with Attkisson for her show which appears on Sinclair TV stations and online Sunday at 9:30 a.m.:
Sharyl: “If this was done to President Trump and his team during the campaign at a time when nobody really thought he was going to win, doesn’t that raise a question in your mind of whether it was possible it was done to other candidates?”
Sen. Graham: “Yeah, here’s what I don’t quite understand. Why should they listen to a conversation between somebody running for president and a foreign agent unless you believe that person’s committed a crime? So, if I’m talking to a foreign leader as a United States senator, it’s one thing to be monitoring the person I’m talking to for intelligence gathering, it’s another thing to listen to my conversation. There’s a separation of powers issue here. As a member of the legislative branch of government, I don’t want the executive branch of government collecting my conversations even if they’re incidental because I don’t want them to know what I’m talking about. This is really scary to me. I understand incidental collection is part of the process, but when you have government officials like myself, the Trump team, I think you should cut the machine off.”
After Trump used Twitter to raise the issue and point a finger at Rice, she went on TV to deny any wrongdoing in “unmasking” the name of those listened to. She said, “I leaked nothing, to nobody, and never have and never would.”
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org