Updated May 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Lindsey Graham shoots down Trump's call for Obama to testify


Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) Photo: Carlos Barria-Pool/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) responded to President Trump's tweet calling for Graham to compel former President Obama to testify before Congress about the Russia investigation, telling Politico: "I don’t think now's the time for me to do that. I don't know if that's even possible."

What's new: Graham released a statement on Thursday saying the Judiciary Committee will hold hearings in June "regarding all things related" to the Russia investigation. But he reiterated that he is "greatly concerned by the precedent that would be set by calling a former president for oversight."

  • Graham said the hearings will look into requests to "unmask" the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn by Obama administration officials, the FBI's surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and whether Robert Mueller should have been appointed as special counsel.
  • " [B]oth presidents are welcome to come before the committee and share their concerns about each other. If nothing else it would make for great television. However, I have great doubts about whether it would be wise for the country."

What's happening: Trump has tweeted hundreds of times about "Obamagate" — the baseless claim that the Russia investigation was a political hit job ordered by Obama — following the Justice Department's decision to drop its case against Flynn.

  • Trump tweeted on Thursday: "If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!"
  • Graham told Politico: "I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for."

Between the lines: Trump's own Department of Justice published an opinion last year — following its decision to block former White House counsel Don McGahn from complying with a subpoena — that argued that former presidents can't be forced to testify before Congress.

  • "The Supreme Court has explicitly recognized this principle in the context of executive privilege," the department argued.
  • "The privilege must outlast the tenure of a particular President because, absent a guarantee of lasting confidentiality, 'a President could not expect to receive the full and frank submissions of facts and opinions upon which effective discharge of his duties depends.'"

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