Michael Flynn case: Trump's ally Lindsey Graham shoots down call to have Obama testify before Congress

The South Carolina senator said it would not only set up an unhealthy precedent but also reminded Trump of 'executive privilege'


                            Michael Flynn case: Trump's ally Lindsey Graham shoots down call to have Obama testify before Congress
Senator Lindsey Graham and Trump (Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is in no mood to let his predecessor Barack Obama off in the ongoing political tussle over former disgraced National Security Adviser (NSA) Michael Flynn but his ‘Obamagate’ attack has not received a favorable response from Lindsey Graham, one of his closest allies. Graham, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, doesn’t think Trump’s call to haul in Obama to testify before the Congress is a practical idea because of the ‘executive privilege claims’ that he has. 

Graham, a veteran senator from South Carolina, shot down Trump’s suggestion made on Twitter that Obama should be called to testify about the ‘biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR’ and Graham should go for it. Trump tagged the senator in his tweet, saying: “Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it.” He though did not specify what Obama should testify about. 

Responding to Trump’s aggressive idea, Graham told reporters at the Capitol Hill on Thursday, May 14: “I am greatly concerned about the precedent that would be set by calling a former president for oversight. No president is above the law. However, the presidency has executive privilege claims against other branches of government.”

“That would open up a can of worms and for a variety of reasons I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he added.

Political polarization reached a new low in the US over the Flynn case. While the current president has accused his predecessor of being part of a conspiracy to harm his presidency, Obama recently slammed the justice department’s dropping of charges against Flynn saying at a private call that the rule of law is at risk

Sitting and former president accusing each other

Graham, 64, spoke about the ‘unusual times’ as he prepared to launch hearings into Flynn’s prosecution and appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. ″To say we are living in unusual times is an understatement. We have the sitting president (Trump) accusing the former president (Obama) of being part of a treasonous conspiracy to undermine his presidency.  We have the former president suggesting the current president is destroying the rule of law by dismissing the General Flynn case," he said in a statement, adding the episode is unfolding at the time of a pandemic.

Barack Obama and Michael Flynn (Getty Images)

Trump, who has been repeatedly mentioning the term ‘Obamagate’ to target his predecessor, ripped into both Obama and his deputy Joe Biden in a recent interview on Fox Business over the declassified information that revealed officials who ‘unmasked’ Flynn. 

“It was the greatest political crime in the history of our country. If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would have been in jail a long time ago, and I'm talking with 50-year sentences. It is a disgrace what's happened,” an irked Trump said. “This is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country.” He called both Obama and Biden, who he is likely to face in the November 3 election, as ‘corrupt’. 

Graham praises act of releasing names of Obama officials

Graham, who thanked the acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell, for ‘releasing names of the Obama Administration officials who made the unmasking requests of American citizen conversations with foreign entities’, wrote in another tweet on Thursday, May 14: “Our first phase will deal with the government's decision to dismiss the Flynn case as well as an in-depth analysis of the unmasking requests made by Obama Administration officials against General Flynn. We must determine if these requests were legitimate.”

“Our next area of inquiry, later this summer, will be oversight building upon the [DOJ inspector general] Horowitz report about [surveillance] abuses against Carter Page. My goal is to find out why and how the system got so off the rails,” he added, referring to a former Trump adviser on foreign policy. 
   
If Graham or any other senator ends up calling Obama to testify, it would be a move without any precedent in America’s history. However, JustSecurity reported in November 2018 that some former presidents and sitting ones, like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, have voluntarily testified under oath.