Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and committee member Senator Lindsey Graham called for a second special counsel to investigate alleged abuses of the FISA process and the FBI's activity during the 2016 election, in an interview Thursday with FNC's Bret Baier.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IOWA: Well, glad to know that it's happening. And secondly, because of the 2016 election, very good reason for doing it, but there's plenty of reason for doing it otherwise. All you have to think about is Ukraine and their interference in the Baltics, Georgia and Crimea and all that. They are trying to recreate a Soviet state and we've got to put a stop to it.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SOUTH CAROLINA: I can't say much better. It's 98-2 vote by the Senate. We can't agree on much of anything in the Senate but 98 senators voted for these sanctions. And up until today really they had not been implemented by the administration.
Clearly the assassination in Great Britain had an effect here. This was a nerve agent associated with the Russian military. Clearly Russia was involved here. So I'm very pleased. But we need to do more.
BAIER: You on the committee have released a series of letters today calling for a special counsel, another special counsel. Why?
GRASSLEY: I would like to suggest to you that you use the word special counsel, yes, because that's what it is. But we are thinking in terms of a special counsel to work with the inspector general.
We have all kinds of confidence in the inspector general's work. We know he's a good person. We know he is doing good work, digs in deep. He's got a staff of maybe about 400 but he doesn't have the capability of working with people that have left the Justice Department. He can only bring in those people that are already in government to investigate.
And this special counsel working in a team, and I want to emphasize the word "team", with the inspector general, will give him the tools he needs to get all the information that we are asking him to get. And we sent him 30 questions that we want investigated.
BAIER: I mean, there's a lot of questions in here. I mean are you seeing things that are really red flags for you, that you've seen that are not getting answered?
GRAHAM: Number one, Chairman Grassley has done a very good job of looking at all things Russia. We have had hearings in our committee about how Russia operates. We have brought in Sally Yates and Clapper and a bunch of other people who are worried about the Trump campaign association with the Russians. We haven't found any evidence of collusion but Mueller is doing his job.
The chairman and I have looked real close at the FBI investigation of the Clinton e-mail scandal and I have come away believing that it was shoddily done; that there were conflicts of interest, that there was political bias that may have resulted in giving Clinton a pass.
The Steele dossier was paid for by the Democratic Party through Fusion GPS. Mr. Christopher Steele had associates in Russia they could have easily compromised him. And we believe the FISA warrant process was abused.
And the reason we want a special counsel is I think crimes may have been committed. Mr. Christopher Steele was sued in May of 2017 in Great Britain for libel. Somebody mentioned in the dossier sued him in British court. And in the response to the lawsuit he admitted in British court that he had talked to media outlets in September of 2016 about the dossier. The FBI told the FISA court all through 2016 -- September, October, November -- that Mr. Christopher Steele had no contacts at all with the media when it comes to shopping around the dossier.
So we have a filing in British court for a lawyer for Mr. Steele who admits to talking to the American media, worldwide media in September at the same time of 2016 the FBI was using him as a confidential informant. Somebody needs to look and see whether or not -- who he is lying to.
GRASSLEY: We will give him the tools to do it because they cannot be counted on to investigate themselves. I mean it's kind of common sense. If you do something wrong, you don't have the fox guarding the chicken house.
GRAHAM: So what are we investigating here? The number four person at the Department of Justice, Bruce Ohr's wife worked for Fusion GPS. He had dozens of contacts with Mr. Steele. The informant the FBI was using on the payroll of the Democratic Party, there is no way in the world he should have interacted with Mr. Steele because his wife worked for the same organization.
So somebody other than the people in charge today needs to look at what they did yesterday.
BAIER: Do you think Andrew McCabe should be fired before he retires?
GRASSLEY: I am not sure I want to make that judgment right now.
BAIER: Do you think it could happen?
GRASSLEY: But I know -- I have great respect for OPR the Office of Professional Responsibility, and they have found something grossly wrong. But I'm not going to draw a line on what should be done about it.
BAIER: Something could happen.
GRASSLEY: You know, we have raised enough questions about him over a long period of time and I suggested to certain people that he ought to have been fired just as soon as we got a new attorney general.
GRAHAM: Well, the punishment for violating the law should be you lose your job if he in fact did authorize FBI agents to talk to the media and lied about it.
BAIER: And seeing what you've seen, you think he did.
GRAHAM: Well, I don't know. We'll leave that up -- here's what I do know. The FBI and the Department of Justice were corrupt in my view when it came to handling the e-mail investigation of Clinton. And the entire FISA warrant application process was abused.
One last thing -- not one Democrat seems to care about this.
GRASSLEY: Why did we start out with this? Trump-Russia was the start of it but you follow the facts and the facts led us to there's a lot of things done in the previous administration.
So today I was criticized in my committee by Democrats that why are we interested in the previous administration? Well, if there is political interference in the Justice Department, the FBI in one administration and that's what we were looking into, wouldn't it be natural that it's wrong in the previous administration?
BAIER: The President said today that stories about a major shake-up in his administration are wrong, are overwritten. But clearly he is considering some additional changes including what has s already happened with Rex Tillerson.
If he did fire Jeff Sessions, how would that go over in the Judiciary Committee?
GRASSLEY: I would only answer your question this way unless you push me on it. I don't think he should be fired.
BAIER: I will push you on it. What do you think would happen?
GRAHAM: It will blow up the committee. The chairman has done a wonderful job getting nominees out of the committee with a lot of obstruction. But if you had to replace the Attorney General Jeff Sessions with somebody new, it would blow the place up. It would be seen as an effort to undermine the Mueller investigation. They'd like to pin (ph) it down and I think Jeff Sessions has done a good job.
BAIER: Have you heard plans -- have you heard plans to do that?
GRASSLEY: I have people in journalism like you asking this, Bret, and I gave the same answer to you. But remember, this administration has enough to do. There's 100 vacancies in the court now that my committee has to deal with. We don't have time to deal with a lot of things that are going fairly smoothly.
GRAHAM: One last thing about what brought us here today. If the shoe were on the other foot, can you imagine how the media would be reacting? That if you found that the lead investigator of an investigation had a political bias against Clinton and for Trump, that if there was a dossier used by the FBI to get a FISA warrant and the Republican Party paid a foreign agent to go to Russia to get information on Hillary Clinton, how they would be behaving today?
All I can say to my Democratic colleagues, I have supported Mueller having the independence to do his job. But if you don't think it's wrong for the FBI to use a paid political informant and present the court a dossier that's been unverified then I disagree.
So the bottom line here, folks, is that what the FBI and DOJ did in terms of investigating Clinton and the initial investigation regarding the Trump campaign really bothers me. And I want somebody other than a politician looking at it.
BAIER: Chances you can get a special counsel in addition to what's already there?
GRAHAM: I will be shocked if somebody doesn't see the inherent conflict in the Department of Justice regarding investigating itself -- high probability.
GRASSLEY: I'm going to use as much leverage as I can and I think I have a lot to get the job done.