Confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh managed to create an even further national divide.. in these divided times. Some claim the unprecedented process means things will never be the same. One man who could lead that next process, is South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. As the week drew to a close, we asked him about that and other issues moving forward.
Sharyl: I wonder what this process says about the future, and by that I mean I'm not suggesting I know a better way it could have or should have been handled, but I think now anytime a woman or man comes up with an accusation, regardless of whether there's any evidence at the 11th hour before or after a vote, I guess they get a congressional hearing. How do you go back from that notion now?
Sen. Graham: I may be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee if we hold the Senate, which I think we will, and Senator Grassley moves to finance - he's done a great job, he's been terrific, but if I'm the chairman, we're going to have some rules. We're not going to take every anonymous letter and turn it into a federal case. We’re going to have a process of the nominee can be vetted. We're going to follow the rules. We're going to be respectful of each other. We're going to inform each other when we have a serious allegation. We’ll come up with a way to dispose of it. We're not going to play games with the nominee’s life, but we'll will hold them accountable for the life they've led within reason. We're going to turn this around and if we don't, you're going to destroy the ability of good people want to serve the judiciary.
Sharyl: Is that fair or accurate to say you used to be sort of a Trump hater? You don’t sound one like now.
Sen. Graham: Well, I think the President beat me and I should honor the fact that I lost to him. I was one of 17 people who ran against him. I finished in the top 17 is the good news. He won, I lost. The people of South Carolina want me to help him, I will, I think he's done a good job. Brett Kavanaugh - if I were President, that’s who I would have nominated, foreign policy, domestic policy. I agree with them a lot. I'll still be me, but I think he's wrong I'll say so. I want him to be successful. If you expect me to not honor his election, you got the wrong guy.
Sharyl: You mentioned perhaps becoming head of the Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Graham: Maybe.
Sharyl: Maybe. What about an opportunity as in the Cabinet, Attorney General or Defense Secretary. Do you see that possibly on the horizon? And what would your views be about a position in the Trump administration?
Sen. Graham: I am going to stay in the United States Senate. If the people of South Carolina allow me to do so. I like my job. I have no desire to be Attorney General or anything else in the Trump administration or anybody else's administration. I like being a Senator.
Sharyl: House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows said on Wednesday it is very likely that undercover FBI sources taped members of the Trump campaign.
Sen. Graham: Well that would be disturbing in this regard. If you have a concern that a campaign, one of the two campaigns in the finals to be President is being interfered with by a foreign entity, you should inform the campaign so they can protect themselves. This is not a criminal investigation. This is a counter terrorism investigation. So we got to have some rules. What are the rules for the intelligence community, the FBI, when they get leads or tips about a campaign being influenced by a foreign entity? You shouldn't treat the campaign as the enemy, you should treat the campaign as a victim.
Sharyl: You might alert them, for example…
Sen. Graham: You should alert them. The goal of a counter intelligence operation is to stop the bad guys from influencing American business or American politics. If you're investigating somebody for a crime that's different. As I understand that this was never a criminal investigation. It was a counter terrorism investigation. If they started taping people in the Trump campaign and they never told the Trump campaign about the attempt to influence the campaign by a foreign entity, then they abused the process, so I'd be surprised if that happened. If it did happen, I'd want to know why.
Sharyl: Is there anything else you want to comment on regarding the Russia investigation… and really haven't heard as much about it the last couple of weeks because of the Kavanaugh hearings.
Sen. Graham: Number one, I've seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. There's a meeting that has been looked at and we'll see what it leads to. President Trump's not much of a colluding kind of guy. Doesn’t collude much with his own government, I doubt he colluded with the Russians. It would be bad and wrong if a campaign coordinated with a foreign power or an entity in control of the foreign power, that would bother me a lot. I see no evidence of that, but we won't know until Mueller's investigation is over. I'm intent on him being able to finish his job, but I'm also equally intent dealing with the abuses at the Department of Justice and the FBI. The mainstream media, you would never know this happened. Role reversal. What if the FBI agent in charge of the Trump investigation liked Trump and hated Clinton. It'd be front page news. What if the dossier used to get FISA warrant on a Clinton person - not a Trump person was paid for by the Republican Party - it would be front page news. So the mainstream media could care less about the abuses of power, the Department of Justice and the FBI. I do. If I'm chairman of the Judiciary Committee, we're going to look at it.
Looking ahead, we’re expecting a meeting this week between President Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.. on allegations that Rosenstein privately suggested wearing a wire to record Trump.