Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump are both “welcome” to testify about the Trump-Russia investigation.
Last week, the Department of Justice filed a motion to drop the charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
In the aftermath, Trump has been demanding investigations and accountability for top Obama-era officials who may have broken the law and/or skirted boundaries to launch the Russia investigation.
Obama has also hit back, pathetically claiming that Trump is a danger to the rule of law and that the DOJ has been tarnished under Trump.
In response to all of this, Graham released a statement on Thursday that his Senate committee plans to begin high-profile hearings on the topic beginning next month.
“I am greatly concerned about the precedent that would be set by calling a former president for oversight,” Graham said. “No president is above the law. However, the presidency has executive privilege claims against other branches of government.” Graham added that “to say we are living in unusual times is an understatement.”
In a Thursday morning tweet, Trump called on Graham to ask Obama to testify about what Trump has dubbed “Obamagate.”
If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020
For his part, Obama blasted Attorney General William Barr’s decision to drop the Justice Department’s criminal case against Flynn last week.
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama told former administration officials in a snippet of a conversation that was leaked to Yahoo News. “And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic, not just institutional norms, but our basic understanding of the rule of law is at risk. And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly, as we’ve seen in other places.”
Graham alluded to Obama’s comments in his statement Thursday.
“We have the sitting president (Trump) accusing the former president (Obama) of being part of a treasonous conspiracy to undermine his presidency,” Graham said. “We have the former president suggesting the current president is destroying the rule of law by dismissing the Gen. Flynn case. All of this is occurring during a major pandemic.”
“As to the Judiciary Committee, both presidents are welcome to come before the committee and share their concerns about each other. If nothing else, it would make for great television. However, I have great doubts about whether it would be wise for the country,” he added.
While Obama and Trump have been going at each other, we also learned this week the names of several Obama administration officials who “unmasked” Flynn in late 2016 and early 2017.
Below are a few of the big names on the documents that “unmasked” Flynn’s identity:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
- Former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough
- Former FBI director James Comey
- Former CIA director John Brennan
- Former director of national intelligence James Clapper
Unmasking involves revealing the identity of an American’s private phone conversations without a constitutional warrant.
These documents are particularly important because Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, originally claimed he had no role in this.
Now, we see that he literally requested to “unmask” Flynn’s identity.
In the newly released documents, we also learned that the FBI had drawn up paperwork to close the case against Flynn, but fired agent Peter Strzok made a last-minute move to keep it open.
Strzok was fired for sending countless anti-Trump text messages to Lisa Page, a former FBI lawyer with whom he was having an affair.
Strzok played a critical role in going after Flynn, the new documents reveal.
Handwritten notes from the FBI — which were withheld from Flynn’s defense team for years — show that a key goal of the agents investigating Flynn was “to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”