Last year, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham voted to advance a bill that would have protected special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now, with more power to do just that, and with a new attorney general in the wings, he's in no hurry to take steps to preserve the Mueller investigation.
On Tuesday, Graham told Politico, "If I see a reason to do it I will, but I think we’re OK right now."
Last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to the floor that would protect Mueller from being fired except for cause by a Senate-confirmed panel. Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled reluctance to advance protections for Mueller and his investigation. Graham publicly urged McConnell to allow the vote in the lame duck session between the election and the new Congress.
In recent months, Graham has cozied to President Donald Trump, who he called a "race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot" before he was the GOP nominee back in 2015. Graham went on to essentially deliver the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh for Trump in the face of allegations of sexual assault against the judge by getting very very angry and gesticulating wildly in front of the Senate hearing TV cameras.
Former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison announced last week that he was taking steps toward challenging Graham in his first re-election bid in the Trump era
Trump has repeatedly criticized the Mueller inquiry as a "witch hunt" and acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was combative with Senate Democrats last week when questioned about his conversations with Trump about the investigation.
During confirmation hearings last month, William Barr, the nominee put forth to replace Jeff Sessions at DOJ, declined to say whether he'd release the final Mueller report publicly. Graham says he's confident that Barr will "be transparent."
The Republican-controlled committee approved Barr's nomination last month and he will likely be confirmed by the Senate this week.