Graham said Trump needs to ‘back off.’
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has a message for President Donald Trump: It’s inappropriate to tweet about the Russia investigation, it’s no laughing matter to suggest you’re secretly taping people, and if you are, you need to hand over the tapes over. That’s basically what the South Carolina lawmaker said on Sunday, in response to Trump’s tweet days prior intimating that he might have recorded a conversation with former FBI Director James Comey without his knowledge.
Speaking to Chuck Todd on Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press, Graham began with a simple acknowledgement of the awkwardness of the situation, jokingly asking Todd why he even agreed to appear on the show. After a week in which Trump fired Comey, admitted it was his decision alone, and even admitted he was thinking about the Trump-Russia investigation when he made the call, it’s not hard to see why Graham was feeling a bit uncomfortable.
“The president said that Russia was on his mind when he making this decision,” Todd said. “How concerning is that to you when it comes to him admitting that was among the things in his mind when he made this decision to fire James Comey?”
Graham’s response was that Comey needed to return to the Senate for another round of testimony―in what would be his third public hearing this year―to get to the bottom of what conversations he’d had with Trump.
“I think we need to have Comey come before the Judiciary Committee and clear the air,” Graham said. “Did the president ever say anything to the director of the FBI that would be construed as trying to impede the investigation? The president called me about the firing and he referenced the Comey testimony last week and the Judiciary Committee about how bad it was, so that’s all I know. But I think it’s time to call the FBI director before the country at large and explain what happened at that dinner, and if there are any tapes they have to be turned over. You can’t be cute about tapes. If there are any tapes of this conversation, you have to turn them over.”
Graham also said it was “inappropriate” for Trump to be tweeting about Comey and Russia and that he would “advise the president not to tweet about the investigation going forward.”
As far as further testimony from Comey is concerned, reports from sources close to the former FBI director suggest he wants to testify, but only in a public hearing. This is possibly a strategy to prevent whatever he says from being misrepresented by partisan leaks, ensuring that his words will be heard by the public, fully unfiltered.
A source close to Comey told me this morning: “He hopes there are tapes. That would be perfect.”
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) May 12, 2017
Suffice to say, if Comey ever gets his public hearing, it could end up being explosive viewing.