Tags: Donald Trump | Michael Flynn resignation | Russia | Lindsey Graham | prosecutor | investigation | Jeff Sessions

Sen. Graham Calls for Special Prosecutor on Trump's Russian Ties

Image: Sen. Graham Calls for Special Prosecutor on Trump's Russian Ties

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (AP Photo/Bill Clark) 

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Mar 2017 11:02 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday if Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked with a Russian diplomat before taking office last month — without telling Congress during his confirmation hearings — "then, for sure, you need a special prosecutor."

"If there is something there, and it goes up the chain of investigation, and it's clear to me that Jeff Sessions, who is my dear friend, cannot make this decision about Trump," the South Carolina Republican said at a town hall meeting hosted by CNN.

"There may be something there that the FBI believes is criminal in nature, then for sure you need a special prosecutor," Graham said. "If that day ever comes, I'll be the first one to say that there's need to be somebody other than Jeff."

Graham participated in the town hall with Arizona Sen. John McCain. The session was hosted by CNN's Dana Bash and held at the George Washington University in Washington.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Graham also sits on the panel — and he ran against President Donald Trump in the primaries last year.

Before he was confirmed as attorney general, Sessions also was a member of the committee.

Justice Department officials told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Sessions spoke twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the United States while he was a senator from Alabama.

Sessions did not disclose the discussions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during his Jan. 10 confirmation hearing for attorney general before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senators had asked Sessions about possible contacts between members of Trump's campaign and Russia officials.

One conversation took place in September in Sessions' office on Capitol Hill, the Post reported.

The private talk occurred during the height of efforts by Russian officials to influence the U.S. presidential race.

The other conversation occurred in July during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, CNN reported later Wednesday.

However, Justice Department officials told CNN that Sessions did not mislead senators in not disclosing contacts when he said during his confirmation he knew of no contacts between Trump officials and Russian diplomats.

Both Graham and McCain told Bash at the town hall the matter needed further investigation.

The Arizona senator has called for a special committee to investigate Russian-related hacking during the election.

"Have no doubt, what the Russians tried to do to our election could have destroyed democracy," McCain said. "And that's why we've got to pay a hell of a lot more attention to the Russians and the things they're doing in Europe.

"Right now, they're trying to determine the outcome of the French election, and they're using cyber."

Graham also slammed President Trump and is perceived softness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"When it comes to Russia, he has a blind spot," the senator said. "The bottom line is that Putin is disrupting democracy everywhere."

They also criticized Trump for plans to cut foreign aid through the State Department, arguing the move would harm rebuilding efforts in the Mideast.

"You're never going to win this war through military force alone," Graham said. "The budget the president's proposing cuts the State Department by over 30 percent.

"That is soft power."

U.S. needs funds for projects like "building a small school" in Iraq and Syria, he said.

"An education for a poor young girl is far more damaging than any bomb," the South Carolina senator said. "That's got to be on the table."

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Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday if Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked with a Russian diplomat before taking office last month — without telling Congress during his confirmation hearings — "then, for sure, you need a special prosecutor."
Lindsey Graham, prosecutor, investigation, Jeff Sessions
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2017-02-01
Wednesday, 01 Mar 2017 11:02 PM
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