Politics

Lindsey Graham Quips That Trump Brought Up Mueller and Russia ‘About 20 Times’

South Carolina senator said he told Trump that ending the Mueller probe would undermine GOP in November

Sen. Lindsey Graham said he told the president to just ride out the Russia investigation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday night that he has told President Donald Trump that ending the special counsel investigation of Robert S. Mueller III would undermine GOP chances in November.

The South Carolina Republican, who played golf with Trump on Sunday in New Jersey and discussed several issues with the president, was asked about the investigation of Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election at a Monday evening event hosted by the Greenville County Republican Party.

“Did Trump ask that question? He must have mentioned that about 20 times,” Graham quipped in response to an audience question about ending the Mueller probe.

Graham said that his message to Trump was in part about the reality of what Republicans could face in November if the Mueller probe is compromised by the actions of the Trump administration or congressional Republicans.

Watch: Graham on Mueller Conversation With Trump: ‘You Just Gotta Ride It Out’

“I want to win in November. If we stop the Mueller probe tomorrow, you wouldn’t be able to talk about anything else,” Graham said. “I told the president this: I promise you, you’ll be treated fairly. I promise you that the people who put the Clinton investigation in the tank, they’re going to have their day too.”

“So, I’m going to let Mueller do his job and we’ll see what he finds, but Mueller’s not in charge of looking at the FISA warrant application, he’s not in charge of overseeing the FBI. What they did during the 2016 election on behalf of Clinton appalls me.”

“There’s a good chance I’ll be Judiciary chairman if we hold the Senate next year. If I’m Judiciary chairman? Stay tuned,” Graham said.

Based on seniority rules of the Senate Republican Conference, current Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa could jump back to the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee in 2019. Graham is next in line at the Judiciary panel.

Graham did tell the South Carolina audience that he thought the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from oversight of the investigation was likely necessary as a matter of law given his involvement in Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I’ve told the president the same thing I’m going to tell you. I’ve been looking at this for two years. I find zero evidence of you colluding with the Russians. Trump beat Hillary Clinton, not the Russians,” said Graham. “I don’t think he colluded with the Russians ‘cause I don’t think he colludes with his own government, so why do we think he would’ve colluded with the Russians?”

Graham said he dined Sunday evening with one of the attendees of the suspicious Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign aides with Russians that the president said until recently was about Russian adoption policy.

Namely? Senior White House adviser (and presidential son-in-law) Jared Kushner.

“The Russian tower meeting, the only thing I can tell you about that meeting, Jared — who I had dinner with last night — in the middle of the meeting texted to his assistant, ‘get me out of this meeting.’ So, I told the president I know you don’t like it,” Graham said Monday. “I know you feel put upon, you just gotta ride it out.”

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