September 16, 2018

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an Air Force JAG officer, on Sunday defended Donald Trump by saying that lying to the FBI is not a "big event."

During an interview on Face the Nation, host John Dickerson asked Graham to react to the news that former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"I don't know yet," Graham replied. "I know that from the [Judiciary Committee] point of view we found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. I think [Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman] Richard Burr said from the Intel point of view that he has seen no evidence of collusion."

Graham argued that Mueller should be allowed to complete his investigation, but the South Carolina senator also said that he was "disappointed" that the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails had been closed.

"I'm very disappointed no Democrat seems to be worried about the corruption at the Department of Justice and the FBI regarding the Clinton e-mail investigation, early stages of the Russian investigation," Graham complained.

Dickerson asked Graham to grade Mueller based on his record of indictments, pleas and guilty verdicts in the Russia investigation.

But Graham suggested that guilty pleas for lying to the FBI do not carry the same weight as other convictions.

"You got to look at the substance of what people pled to," the military lawyer opined. "Some people pled to lying to the FBI like [George Papadopoulos] got two weeks in jail."

"I don't see that as a big event," Graham added. "Manafort could have a lot of stuff or he could just have stuff around financial transactions. I don't know yet. You don't look at the numbers."

According to the senator, Mueller's investigation is much like Ken Starr's investigation of former President Bill Clinton.

"I think it's proceeding in a way that these things start with a land deal and wind up with a blue dress," Graham quipped.

It's an interesting shift from where he was in 1998 and Bill Clinton's pending impeachment.

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