Graham: FBI’s credibility took a ‘real blow’ after IG report

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CNN
Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that revelations in a newly released Justice Department report about the 2016 election have “crippled” the credibility of the department and the FBI.

He added that disclosures such as text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page that suggest they would block Donald Trump from winning the 2016 election have made Graham reconsider whether there was political bias in the FBI at the time of several sensitive investigations.

“Here’s the point you got to get,” the South Carolina Republican said on an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour.” “Just back up. The institutions are crippled. If you don’t believe that the average American is going to think that the FBI is far more political than they ever believed, that’s crazy,” Graham said.

The Justice Department’s inspector general released a sweeping report Thursday detailing a series of failures by the top federal officials in charge of the investigation ahead of the election, concluding that the FBI’s actions ultimately “cast a cloud” over the bureau and senior leaders did lasting damage to the FBI’s reputation.

“I think most people will take from this, particularly the Republicans … that the institutions investigating President Trump took a real blow here,” Graham said.

Graham also notes that while the newly released report is separate from the Russia investigation, it calls into question the credibility of the people on that team. Strzok worked briefly for special counsel Robert Mueller but was removed from that office after other politically charged texts came to light. Thursday’s report did not address whether Strzok’s political views affected the Russia investigation — that is for another report still to come. Strzok told the Inspector General that he “did not take any steps to try to affect the outcome of the presidential election,” according to the report.

“The people that were showing bias against the President were also part of the initial Russia investigation. But you’d be kidding yourself if you think this doesn’t do a lot of damage to the institution that are now looking at the President,” Graham said.

When asked if the report proved there was not a “deep state” conspiracy, Graham said the report made him reconsider.

“I didn’t buy into this stuff. That you know, all these people are out to get Trump. There’s enough evidence now to prove to me that the FBI needs to be looked at really closely,” he said.