Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Thursday he now believed the Russian probe was now "a criminal investigation" in light of former FBI Director Robert Mueller's appointment to head the inquiry.
"The takeaway I have is that everything he said was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation," the South Carolina Republican told reporters after a classified briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein met with the full Senate to discuss last week's firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Donald Trump.
Rosenstein named Mueller, also a former FBI director, to head the agency's investigation Wednesday.
"The biggest legal change seems to be that Mr. Mueller is going to proceed forward with the idea of a criminal investigation versus a counterintelligence investigation," Graham said.
"There was no facts laid out as to why you would change that, but appointing a special counsel has created a dynamic for Congress that's going to have to be very leery of crossing into Mr. Mueller's lane."
Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Mueller's role would most likely take precedence over investigations by the intelligence committees of both the Senate and the House.
"It's now considered a criminal investigation – and Congress' ability to conduct investigations of all things, Russia, has been severely limited.
"You're pretty-well knocked out of the game," he told reporters. "That's probably the way it should be."
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