Lindsey Graham and John McCain were best friends, which makes it more than a little strange that Graham has become the biggest Congressional cheerleader for a president who has routinely bashed his late buddy, even in death.
“President Trump has been good to me in the sense that he’s allowed me in his world,” Graham offered, weirdly, during a Wednesday appearance on CNN.
Graham’s sycophancy has been rewarded with access, as he demonstrated in the same interview by revealing that the president told him in a phone conversation that he has no plans to use his executive privilege to prevent certain parts of Mueller’s report from going public. “Just release it,” was the directive from Trump, according to Graham.
Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Trump has no plans to invoke executive privilege before the Mueller report is released to lawmakers. Graham says he spoke to Trump, who said: "Just release it" pic.twitter.com/9v6HiRVXA8
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 27, 2019
Graham also said that he doubts the White House will see a copy of the report before it is released. “The president said, ‘Release it,'” Graham said. “He reinforced that last night.”
The news is reassuring — kind of — as roughly 24 hours earlier Graham said that a version of the report would be available to the public in “weeks not months,” and that the Justice Department would consult with the White House in case the president wanted to invoke his executive privilege to redact certain portions. This was concerning, obviously, as Trump could have then simply redacted anything he felt reflected poorly on himself or his campaign. This could still happen, but Graham’s new comments at least indicate that Trump may be so confident in Attorney General William Barr that he’ll allow him to disseminate as much of the report as he wants.
This has been Trump’s position since Barr was sworn in last month. When asked by reporters on Monday if he thinks the full report should be released, Trump replied that “it’s up to the attorney general” but that it “wouldn’t bother” him at all. He said the same thing last week prior to Mueller filing his report to the Justice Department. “Let it come out, let people see it,” Trump said. “It’s up to the attorney general. We have a very good attorney general. He’s a very highly respected man. We’ll see what happens. It’s sort of interesting that a man just out of the blue writes a report.”
Reporter: Does the public have a right to see the Mueller report?
Trump: I don't mind. I mean, frankly, I told the House, if you want, let them see it pic.twitter.com/SYLzbT6ouO
— POLITICO (@politico) March 20, 2019
One reason Trump may have so much confidence in the discretion of his attorney general is that, back in early 2018, when he was still a private citizen, Barr wrote an unsolicited 19-page letter to Congress bashing the special counsel’s investigation — particularly its inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice. This was almost certainly a driving force behind Trump’s decision to nominate Barr to become the attorney general and thus take control of the investigation.
So far, the move has paid dividends for the president.
In his four-page summary of Mueller’s report, Barr made a point to clear Trump of any obstruction of justice, despite noting that Mueller went out of his way not to exonerate the president. Why this is remains a mystery for now, and though Democratic lawmakers have applied maximum pressure to force the release of the full report, Barr has total discretion over how much of it will be made public. Trump is sitting pretty.