News & Politics

Sen. Graham: Obama Admin Incidentally Surveilled and Unmasked Me

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks with reporters before the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on May 9, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Friday that intelligence community sources have told him that he was incidentally surveilled and perhaps unmasked by the Obama administration.

“I have reason to believe that a conversation that I had was picked up with some foreign leader or some foreign person and somebody requested that my conversation be unmasked,” Graham told Fox News on Friday.

“All I can say is there are 1,950 collections on American citizens talking to people that were foreign agents being surveilled either by the CIA, the FBI or the NSA,” he told Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on “America’s Newsroom.”

“Here is the concern. Did the people in the Obama administration listen to these conversations — was there a politicizing of the intelligence gathering processes?” Graham asked. “Of the 1,950 incidental collections on American citizens, how many of them involved presidential candidates, members of Congress from either party — and if these conversations were unmasked, who made the request?”

Graham’s claim comes less than a month after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee asking if his name “or the names of other members of Congress, or individuals from our staffs or campaigns, were included in queries or searches of databases of the intelligence community, or if their identities were unmasked in any intelligence reports or products.”

Graham and Paul ran as part of a crowded Republican primary field, with neither managing to win a state and both struggling to garner support.

The South Carolina senator is now keenly interested in everything having to do with unmasking.

“I want to know everything there is about unmasking — how it works and who requested unmasking in conversations between foreign people and American members of Congress,” he said.

He added that he sent a letter to the NSA, FBI, and CIA requesting information regarding any collection pertaining to him.

“Now if you got a reason to believe any member of Congress is committing a crime, then you go get a warrant to follow us around like you would any other citizen,” Graham said. “But I meet with foreign leaders all the time and I would be upset if ANY executive branch agency listened in on MY conversations because I’m in another branch of government.”

Earlier in the conversation, Graham discussed next week’s Senate hearing with former FBI Director James Comey.

 “Here’s what I worry about. He’ll just focus on his conversation with the president and not answer any other questions because of the investigation,” Graham said. “That would be a hit job on President Trump and I hope this hearing doesn’t become a hit job on President Trump.”
He continued, “I think Director Comey should answer the question, is Trump under investigation? Is he a target — or subject of an investigation regarding him colluding with the Russians? I don’t believe he is. There’s a cloud over the presidency that needs to be removed if the facts justify it being removed,” added Graham, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of the committees looking into Russian collusion.
“The Russians interfered with our election,” Graham said. “But I’ve seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump team — and when it comes to President Trump as an individual — zero evidence that he colluded with the Russians.”