Lindsey Graham Rejects Trump's Call to Force Obama to Testify in Russia Investigation

Senator Lindsey Graham has offered President Donald Trump a unique solution to his calls for Barack Obama to testify about the Russia investigation—why don't they both appear before Congress?

"To say we are living in unusual times is an understatement," Graham said in a statement Thursday emphasizing his disinclination toward calling on the former commander-in-chief to testify.

"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," Graham added.

The Republican from South Carolina and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee then invited both Trump and Obama to voluntarily voice their concerns to Congress, though he said he doubted how much good that would do.

"If nothing else it would make for great television," he said. "However, I have great doubts about whether it would be wise for the country."

Trump has repeatedly called on Congress to force Obama to testify over what he alleges —without evidence—was a conspiracy against his administration. Trump has called the purported scandal "worse than Watergate" but has declined to offer specifics when asked to explain the charges.

"If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING," the president tweeted on Thursday.

"No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!" he added, telling Graham to "just do it."

If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama. He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2020

While Graham has so far declined these requests, he said this week that he would summon several former Obama officials to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of an ongoing probe into the origins of the Russia investigation. Graham said his panel will have a hearing in the first week of June.

This week it was revealed that dozens of former Obama officials, including former Vice President Joe Biden, were involved in "unmasking" former national security adviser Michael Flynn from intelligence reports during the transition period between the two presidential administrations. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his communications with Russian officials but last week the Justice Department abruptly dropped the case against him.

Graham isn't the only one who disagrees with forcing Obama to testify. Trump's own Justice Department said in a published opinion last year that former presidents can't be compelled to testify before Congress.

"The Supreme Court has explicitly recognized this principle in the context of executive privilege," the department argued.

"The privilege must outlast the tenure of a particular President because, absent a guarantee of lasting confidentiality, 'a President could not expect to receive the full and frank submissions of facts and opinions upon which effective discharge of his duties depends,'" the department added.

donald trump obama testimony lindsey graham
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on May 14, 2020, in Washington, D.C. President Trump is traveling to Allentown, Pennsylvania to visit Owens & Minor, a medical equipment distributor. On Thursday, Trump repeated his calls for former President Barack Obama to testify before Congress about what Trump said was "the biggest political crime and scandal" in American history. Drew Angerer/Getty