Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham asserted Sunday that the former government officials pushing back on President Trump’s order to declassify Russia probe documents “are worried about being exposed for taking the law into their own hands.”
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, Graham also argued that Democrats are unconcerned with whether the FBI misled the federal surveillance court in order to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“I want all the documents around the FISA warrant application released. I want to find out exactly how the counterintelligence operation began,” Graham said. “I think transparency is good for the American people. Not one Democrat seems to care.”
“I wish some Democrat would come forward to find out if the FISA court was defrauded by the FBI and the Department of Justice.”
On Thursday, President Trump granted Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify documents from the Russia probe. He also instructed the heads of several federal agencies, including the CIA and FBI, to provide documents to Barr as part of his review of the origins of the investigation.
Barr is looking into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation, as well as the surveillance activities carried out by the FBI and CIA against Trump associates.
Republicans have sought declassification of documents related to the FBI’s handling of the Steele dossier. The bureau relied on the document, which was unverified and funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC, in applications for the Carter Page FISA warrants.
Trump’s order has prompted a backlash from numerous Obama administration officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan.
In an interview on Friday, Brennan said he was worried that Barr might begin releasing source and method intelligence in “willy nilly” fashion. He also said that he was concerned that declassification might endanger national security.
“The people who are worried about this are worried about being exposed for taking the law into their own hands. It doesn’t surprise me that the people we’re looking at, they don’t want transparency.”
One argument put forth by Brennan and other Obama era officials is that the CIA’s confidential human sources could be exposed and put in danger. The New York Times on Friday pointed to one CIA asset inside the Kremlin whose safety is of particular concern. The source reportedly provided the intelligence that Vladimir Putin directed the Russian government’s attacks on the 2016 presidential campaign.
But Graham claimed that the declassification order will not jeopardize national security.
“We’re not compromising national security here. We’re trying to create a system to make sure this never happens again by shedding light on what happened with the FISA warrant process, the counterintelligence investigation. Did they have a lawful reason to surveil President Trump’s campaign? Did they lie to the FISA court? Every American should want to find that out,” he said.
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