Sen. Lindsey Graham: ‘Attempted Obstruction of a Crime That Never Occurred’ Is ‘the New Standard’

By Melanie Arter | May 1, 2019 | 12:01pm EDT
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

( – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used his opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the DOJ’s investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election to point out the political bias of the FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers and that at least two people were involved in destroying evidence but nothing has happened to them.

In contract, he noted that in the Muller investigation of President Donald Trump, the president has provided 1.4 million documents and records, never once asserted executive privilege, allowed more than 20 White House staffers including eight from the White House counsel’s office to be interviewed voluntarily by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, and the president himself submitted “written interrogatories.”


Graham pointed out that legally in order to obstruct justice, there must be “specific intent” and if there’s “no underlying crime,” it’s difficult to determine what the intent is, because “there was never a crime to begin with.”

Furthermore, he said, Trump “never did anything to stop Mueller from doing his job.” The “new standard around here,” Graham said, is “attempted obstruction of a crime that never occurred.”



“What did we learn from this report? After all this time and all this money, Mr. Mueller concluded there was no collusion,” Graham said, adding that Mueller was never removed as special counsel. “He was allowed to do his job, so no collusion, no coordination, no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government regarding the 2016 election.”

“As to obstruction of justice, Mr. Mueller left it to Mr. [Attorney General William] Barr to decide after two years and all of this time, he said, Mr. Barr, you decide. Mr. Barr did,” said Graham, who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“There’re a bunch of lawyers on this committee, and I will tell you the following: you have to have specific intent to obstruct justice. If there’s no underlying crime, pretty hard to figure out what intent might be if there was never a crime to begin with. The president never did anything to stop Mueller from doing his job, so I guess the theory goes now, okay, he didn’t collude with the Russians, and he didn’t specifically do anything to stop Mueller, but attempted obstruction of a crime that never occurred I guess is sort of the new standard around here,” he said.

Graham then compared the Mueller investigation to the investigation into Clinton’s private email server.

“The other campaign was investigated not by Mr. Mueller, but by people within the Department of Justice. The accusation against Secretary Clinton was that she set a private server up somewhere in her house and classified information was on it to avoid the disclosure requirements and the transparency requirements required of being Secretary of State. So that was investigated,” the senator said.

What do we know? We know that the person in charge of investigating hated Trump’s guts. 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 that he couldn’t do his job. This is what [former FBI agent Peter] Strzok said on February 12, 2016. Now he’s in charge of the Clinton email investigation. ‘Oh he’s (Trump’s) abysmal. I keep hoping this charade will end and people will just dump him.’ - February 12, 2016.

[Lisa] Page is the Department of Justice lawyer assigned to this case. March 3rd, 2016. ‘God, Trump is a loathsome human being.’ Strzok: ‘Oh my God. Trump’s an idiot.’ Page: ‘He’s awful.’ Strzok: ‘God, Hillary should win 100 million to nothing.’

Compare those two people to Mueller. March 16, 2016: ‘I cannot believe Trump is likely to be an actual serious candidate for president.’ July 21st, 2016: ‘Trump is a disaster. I have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be.’

August 8, 2016 – three days before Strzok was made deputy acting in charge of the counterintelligence division of the FBI. ‘He’s never going to become president, right?’ Page to Strzok: ‘No, no, he won’t. We’ll stop him.’ These are the people investigating the Clinton email situation and start the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. Compare them to Mueller.

August 15, 2016: Strzok: ‘I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office, that there’s no way he gets elected, but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.’ It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.’

August 26, 2016: ‘Just went to the southern Virginia Wal-Mart. I could smell the Trump support.’

October 19, 2016: ‘Trump is a f***ing idiot. He’s unable to provide a coherent answer.’ Sorry for the kids out there.

Graham noted that both Strzok and Page were behind the “decision that Clinton didn’t do anything wrong and a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign was warranted.” He said after the Mueller report “is put to bed,” the Judiciary committee will “look long and hard” at how the Russia investigation started.

“We’re gonna look at the FISA warrant process. Did Russia provide Christopher Steele the information about Trump that turned out to be garbage that was used to get a warrant on an American citizen, and if so, how did the system fail? Was there a real effort between Papadopolous and anybody in Russia to use the Clinton emails stolen by the Russians or was that thought planted in his mind?” Graham said.

He suggested substituting Clinton for Trump when looking at both investigations.

As to cooperation in the Clinton investigation. I told you what the Trump people did. I’ll tell you a little bit about what the Clinton people did. 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 the email server clean. Has anybody ever heard of Paul Combetta? No.

Under protective order from the House to preserve the information under request from the State Department to preserve the information on the server, he used a BleachBit program to wipe it clean. What happened to him? Nothing. 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.

So the bottom line is we’re about to hear from Mr. Barr the results of a two-year investigation into the Trump campaign all things Russia, the actions the president took before and after the campaign, $25 million, 40 FBI agents. I appreciate very much what Mr. Mueller did for the country. I have read most of the report. For me, it is over.


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