DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, told CBS 11 Thursday that he wants U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to have the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) look into allegations that the Department of Justice and the FBI may have misled judges while seeking FISA warrants to investigate the Trump Campaign and former campaign aide Carter Page.
“I expect Justice Roberts to have the [FISA] Court ask questions of the Department of Justice and the FBI, ‘Did you mislead us?'” said Graham. “My job is to make sure the laws we have are enough to protect us. Somebody’s got to watch those who watch us.”
According to CBS News, redacted versions of the FISA documents that have been made public indicated that the FBI told the intelligence court in applying for the wiretap on Page that he “has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.” The agency also told the court that “the FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”
Page was never charged with a crime and Graham called the evidence used to justify the FISA Court warrant against Page “garbage.”
Attorney General William Barr told a Senate panel earlier this month that he intended to investigate the matter.
“I think spying did occur, yes,” said Barr. “I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it, that’s all,” Barr also said.
CBS 11 Political Reporter Jack Fink asked Graham if he agrees with Barr that the U.S. Government was spying on the Trump Campaign in 2016.
“A FISA warrant is by definition spying,” said Graham. “The question is, ‘was it legal?’ he continued. “Did they have a good faith basis to get a warrant against Carter Page.”
Barr is schedule to address the matter in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee – which Graham chairs – on Wednesday, May 1.
A Clinton Campaign funded set of controversial memos provided by a former British spy named Christopher Steele – now known as the ‘Steele Dossier’ – were used to justify the FISA warrants. Those memos accused the Trump campaign of working with the Russian government.
“Did they open a counter intelligence investigation against Trump based on good facts. Or was it politically motivated event?” said Graham. “Don’t know… we’re gonna give you the answer.”
Graham went on to say that separation of powers does not allow him to interview judges but he would encourage Roberts to ask the FISA court about the matter.
“I’m not going to interview the judges because we have separate branches [of government], but I’m going to call Justice Roberts and say, ‘If you want to save the FISA program like I do, you’ve got a bunch of conservatives in this country who believe that the court was basically tricked,'” said Graham.
Graham said that he and conservatives believe there’s evidence the leaders of the FBI and DOJ – in charge of the investigation into the Trump Campaign – had a political agenda; that they wanted Trump to lose and Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 Presidential Election.
The Senator also said he has no interest in calling Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify. “Bill Barr is the guy that should tell us what happened,” said Graham. “I trust Bill Barr to be fair about the report. I think the report speaks for itself. I’m not going to retry the case.”
Graham outlined his questions for the FBI about the Steele Dossier.
“I think it’s a bunch of garbage,” said Graham. “But we’ll ask the FBI, ‘tell me what’s true about it.’ I’m going to ask the FBI – to this day – is it verified. This document – called the Steele Dossier – ‘how much of it can you verify – this day. Was the dossier a bunch of garbage?’ And if it was a bunch of garbage, how could [the FBI] use it four different times?”
Graham said he likes the concept of the FISA Court but that there needs to be checks and balances. “The FISA Court has a reason for being,” said Graham. “It’s a secret court because people are out to do us harm. It allows the intelligence community – the FBI – to go to the court in secret to get a warrant when you think a foreign intelligence service is trying to do us harm.”
“The Congress has oversight of the Department of Justice, the Judiciary and the FBI, the question for me is, ‘Are there enough checks and balances to protect the American citizens against a warrant being issued by the FISA court?'”
“My goal as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee is to change our laws that need to be changed to make sure this never happens again,” said Graham.
The Senator was in Dallas attending Earth X. The annual Dallas event is billed as the world’s largest environmental expo, conference, and film festival celebrating Earth Day and developing solutions for environmental problems. Billionaire businessman and environmentalist Trammell Crow founded the event in 2011.