Sen. Graham: Durham Report Shows FBI Is a ‘Political Weapon’ Targeting Trump

Sen. Graham: Durham Report Shows FBI Is a ‘Political Weapon’ Targeting Trump
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during the Vision 2024 National Conservative Forum at the Charleston Area Convention Center in Charleston, S.C., on March 18, 2023. (Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday that special counsel John Durham’s report is “damning,” arguing the probe’s long-awaited result points out the FBI has become a political tool that “took the rule of law and threw it over to try to get a political outcome.”

Graham told radio talk show host John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM’s “Cats Roundtable” that it’s a “very dangerous time” for America if a federal law enforcement agency is able to spread a “false story” about a U.S. presidential candidate and launch an investigation based on claims it knew were not reliable and “full of fiction.”

“What did we learn from the Durham report? We learned that the FBI received a dossier called the Steel Dossier that was organized by two Russian agents, that was full of fiction, that was used to get a warrant against Carter Page. When the FBI was alerted that it may not be reliable, they went ahead anyway,” Graham said.

“The Department of Justice [DOJ], the FBI, and the media colluded to sell this false story that Donald Trump was a Russian agent and his campaign was being run by Russia,” he continued. “The Durham report is damning. It shows the FBI became a political weapon. They wanted to get Trump. They didn’t care how they did it.”

When Catsimatidis asked Graham to share his view on why it took Durham such a long time to complete the report, Graham responded that he has “no friggin’ idea.”

“It is done. it is damning. They took the rule of law and threw it over to try to get a political outcome,” Graham said. “In the next election, if Republicans win … I’ll call Durham, the Democrats will never have him before the committee,” he added.

Durham submitted his 300-plus page report (pdf) to Attorney General Merrick Garland on May 12. The unclassified document (pdf) was delivered to the Senate and House Committee on the Judiciary on May 15 before it was made available to the public later that day.

According to the report, the FBI’s rushed investigation into Trump’s campaign was “based on raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence” and reflects a departure from how the bureau approached other politically sensitive investigations in 2016.

The special counsel further impugned the bureau’s error-ridden applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page. FBI agents applied to renew the secret-court warrants on Page despite admitting, both at the time and subsequently, that they had no probable cause to do so.

Opportunity for Action

Graham also said he believes there are double standards in the FBI’s treatment of Republicans and Democrats, arguing the top law enforcement agency is “covering up” the Hunter Biden laptop story while going after Trump with a very different attitude.

“You had social media and intelligence officials trying to convince people that the Hunter Biden laptop was fake when it’s real. They’re trying to make you believe that Trump was a Russian agent working for the Russians when he wasn’t. We live in a very dangerous time,” he said.

Several Republicans, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), have since called for Congress to target the budget of the FBI in light of Durham’s discovery.

Last week, Gaetz accused the FBI and DOJ of being politically biased in the probe, alleging the agency has become “the enforcement wing of the Democratic Party to play offense against Trump.” The Florida congressman suggested that the FBI should be defunded and its agents criminally indicted.

“The report takes great lengths to point out the number of times where Trump was targeted in a way no other American would be,” Gaetz said in an interview with Newsmax on May 15. “In essence, the FBI has now become a disinformation and election interference enterprise here in our country. It’s very damning for them.”

“I think we have to deauthorize, defang, and defund many of these authorities and entities and different task forces that actually converted the just and righteous act of protecting our country with the desire to have a particular political candidate win or lose,” he added.

Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said over the weekend that the committee is going to take a “good, hard look” at individuals highlighted in Durham’s report, adding that “nothing is off the table” in terms of potential probes.

Jordan made the remarks in a May 21 interview on Fox News, in which he was asked about pursuing new investigations in light of the Durham report, which found that the FBI dropped four criminal investigations into former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

“Are there people that were highlighted in the Durham investigation and the Durham report that we need to talk to on the Judiciary Committee? We’re going to give that a good, hard look,” Jordan said.

“Nothing is off the table,” he added, “because it is critical the American people understand how their government—their agencies—have been turned on them, the taxpayer, and we get all the facts out there.”

FBI Responds

The FBI responded to the Durham report hours after the DOJ published it on its website, acknowledging “missteps” in its 2016–2017 investigation into the alleged Trump–Russia ties.

“The conduct in 2016 and 2017 that Special Counsel Durham examined was the reason that current FBI leadership already implemented dozens of corrective actions, which have now been in place for some time,” the FBI wrote in a statement. “Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented.”

Some of the reforms the FBI has since implemented include, according to its letter to Durham: installing more rigorous requirements for applying for surveillance; requiring personnel training for surveillance applications; updating agency guidelines on vetting confidential human resources; requiring additional approval for opening “sensitive” investigative measures; and expanding its internal oversight and auditing programs.

The FBI also said that the questionable conduct uncovered in Durham’s report occurred under the previous leadership and that all the senior executives overseeing the Trump–Russia probe have left the agency.

Meanwhile, Trump seized on the report in a series of posts on Truth Social, stating the investigative report indicates the federal government launched a coordinated effort to interfere with the 2016 election, describing the FBI’s investigation of him as a “disgrace.”

“The American Public was scammed, just as it is being scammed right now by those who don’t want to see GREATNESS for AMERICA!” Trump, the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race, wrote in one post on Truth Social.

In another post, Trump accused the FBI of being involved in a plot to overthrow his presidency. “TREASON!!!” and “THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY!” he wrote.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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