Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was a tough critic of Donald Trump before he was elected president. In the year-and-a-half since Trump took office, however, Graham has become a staunch defender of the president.
Graham has gone from a supporter of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference to a dissenter, calling for the probe to end.
On Sunday, Graham appeared on Fox News Sunday and said the Mueller investigation was “corrupt to the core” and that a special counsel should be appointed to investigate the Justice Department and the FBI.
These [FBI] investigations against Trump were corrupt to the core. They gave Clinton a pass, and we need a special counsel to look at all things at the Department of Justice and FBI when it came to the Trump investigation, particularly the counterintelligence investigation.
Washington Post opinion columnist Jonathan Capehart asked on MSNBC’s Am Joy what could be prompting Graham’s change of heart.
Lindsey Graham, talk about confusing, he confuses me. On some days he is ‘the president must be held accountable,’ and then here he seems to be carrying the president’s water. Can you explain what he is doing?
Authoritarianism expert Sarah Kendzior offered a possible explanation as to why this is the case. Kendzior opined that Graham’s waffling may be tied to the hacking of the RNC during the campaign.
“I can offer some theories. Lindsey Graham was one of the people who called for the investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin,” Kendzior said. “He did that all the way back in 2016 before Trump was inaugurated. He has then done a complete 180. He’s been supporting Trump, he’s been covering for Trump.”
Kendzior noted that Graham’s emails were also hacked and although the contents of those emails have not been released, Graham’s defense of Trump could indicate the Senator fears what’s in those emails.
“There are a few things we should remember,” she said. “The RNC was hacked; no one knows what happened to those emails. Lindsey Graham personally was hacked and nobody knows who has those emails. The RNC is complicit financially and politically and broadly in what the Trump campaign has done in terms of illicit interactions with Russia.”
Kendzior then suggested that Graham could be, albeit involuntarily, “mixed up” in the RNC’s financial entanglements with Russia, which would explain the change in his behavior.
“We have tracked all of those financial ties and there’s pretty good chance that either voluntarily or involuntarily Senator Graham has gotten mixed up in the situation and cannot be an objective observer,” she explained.
Kendzior added that Graham has strayed from his reputation as an anti-corruption firebrand in the Senate.
“I find that sad because in the past he has asked for a nonpartisan look at what Trump has done,” she said. “He stood up against corruption and he should go back to that.”
Graham said that the FBI’s probe into the alleged Trump-Russia connection should itself be investigated because FBI agent Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, works for Fusion GPS, the opposition research company that published the Christopher Steele dossier.
Steele, a former British intelligence officer, was hired by Fusion GPS in 2016 to dig up details on connections between Trump and Russia.
“Mr. Ohr should not have had any role in investigating the Trump campaign,” Graham said. “We need a special counsel to look at all things Department of Justice and FBI when it came to the Trump investigation.”
“Here’s what I would tell the American people. Both campaigns were investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice in 2016. When it came to the Clinton campaign, she got a pass. The criminal investigation of the Clinton campaign was a joke,” Graham said. “When it came to the Trump campaign, it [the investigation] was corrupt, it was biased and I think unethical.”