Donald Trump wants to discredit the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and smear his political opponents in the process. Sen. Lindsey Graham is, as usual, eager to make Trump happy. From his perch as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham plans to investigate the investigations, looking for anything he can blow up into alleged wrongdoing against Trump. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because Attorney General William Barr is carrying out his own version of the same project.
The Judiciary Committee usually issues subpoenas on a bipartisan basis, but Graham plans to sidestep that by holding a vote to allow himself to subpoena more than 50 current and former officials involved in the investigations. Graham’s subpoena list includes former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan—all of whom are firmly on Trump’s enemies list—as well as current Trump officials like Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Graham has said he does not want to subpoena former President Barack Obama, but that doesn’t mean his partisan investigation won’t give Trump the excuse to keep ranting about “Obamagate.” After all, he’s shown he doesn’t need any actual substance, telling Fox News viewers: “It was the greatest political crime in the history of our country,” and: “If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would've been in jail a long time ago, & I'm talking with 50-year sentences. It is a disgrace what's happened. This is the greatest political scam, hoax, in the history of our country. And people should be going to jail for this stuff, and hopefully a lot of people are going to have to pay. No other president should have to go through... (something something, Flynn, heroes, something something). [...] This was all Obama. This was all Biden. These people were corrupt. The whole thing was corrupt. And we caught them.”
Note how at no point does he give any hint of what this “greatest political crime in the history of our country” was—so when it comes to Graham’s shame investigation, anything Obama administration-adjacent will be plenty for Trump to hang another rant on.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, too, jumped on board with the plan to attack the investigations into Russian election interference, saying Tuesday that the FBI’s investigation of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page used the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to “snoop on a presidential campaign.” McConnell, remember, blocked Obama from alerting voters to Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 elections.
So this is the play: Try to not only create doubt about whether Russia put a thumb on the scale in Trump’s favor in 2016 (which it did), but actually reverse that and make it look like the fact of Russian interference is actually a fiction concocted by Democrats to illegally hurt Trump. And Republicans control enough of government—and can rely on traditional media to both-sides everything in sight—that it may succeed in convincing some fraction of voters.
Posted with permission from Daily Kos.