Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., responded Tuesday to a CNN guest’s comments regarding Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who made waves as a witness during the Trump impeachment proceedings and was recently ousted from the White House, saying anyone who engages in “political bias in uniform” needs to be held accountable.
Graham made the comments on “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday reacting to retired Army Brig. Gen. Peter Zwack, Vindman’s former supervisor, who called out Graham for not standing up for Vindman and his twin brother and others who testified during the Trump impeachment proceedings.
Speaking on “CNN’s Newsroom,” Zwack said, “This is ridiculous, OK? To come in this way. These people are great Americans that are often put in a difficult situation.”
Zwack then called out the South Carolina senator, saying: “Sen. Graham, I have always had a lot of respect for you. I met you when I was in Afghanistan in 2008 when you arrived with Sen. [John] McCain and [former Connecticut Sen.] Joe Lieberman as part of the three amigos. We thought you guys were rock stars. Where are you now, sir?”
It came just two days after President Trump was acquitted in the Senate on the impeachment charges brought by the House last year over his dealings with Ukraine.
Also Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who testified about Trump’s Ukraine dealings during the House impeachment hearings, said Friday that he had been recalled from that position.
A senior administration official also told Fox News that Vindman’s twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman has also left the National Security Council. Yevgeny Vindman was assigned to the office that vetted publications like former national security adviser John Bolton’s book – though he has said he was not involved in the vetting of the Bolton manuscript.
Responding to Zwack’s question, Graham said on “America’s Newsroom” on Tuesday, “I think FBI agents had a political agenda during the investigation of President Trump and they acted on it.”
“I think CIA operatives have been out to try to get the president since he was elected,” he continued. “I think there are people in uniform that can’t accept this result.”
He went on to say, “I appreciate Lt. Col. Vindman’s service, but to the general, thank you for that nice compliment.”
Graham then said, “Because you wear the uniform doesn’t mean you’re exempt from being asked questions. Did he know the whistleblower? Was there a member of [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam] Schiff’s staff that was a friend of the whistleblower? Had these guys been planning for years a way to try to take this president down?”
He said that “when a military officer engages in a political bias in uniform, they need to be held accountable,” adding that he believes “there were operatives in the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Justice that took the law in their own hands.”
Graham said he doesn’t know if a military officer engaged in a political bias in uniform, but he’s “not going to be deterred” from asking questions.
“You’re not going to drive me away,” Graham continued. “You tried to drive us away from looking at the FBI. You told us everything was fine with the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant. You are not going to drive me away from asking questions about the whistleblower.”
In December, Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz released the highly anticipated findings from his nearly two-year review concerning the origins of the Russia investigation and the issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The 476-page report said investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding either the launch of the Trump-Russia investigation or the efforts to seek the controversial FISA warrant to monitor Page in the early stages of that probe.
However, Horowitz’s report revealed there were at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Page FISA applications.
Fox News’ John Roberts and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.