Sen. Lindsey Graham’s interrogation of FBI Director James Comey in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday revealed that Russia has continuing influence on the United States government beyond the recent presidential election.
“Is it fair to say that the Russian government is still involved in American politics?” Graham asked.
“Yes,” Comey replied.
“So what kind of threat do you believe Russia presents to our democratic process? Given which you know about Russia's behavior of late?” Graham asked.
“Well, certainly, in my view, the greatest threat of any nation on earth, given their intention and their capability,” Comey replied.
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, spent roughly seven minutes grilling Comey on Russian influence in the U.S. government as well as terrorism issues and even ex-congressman Anthony Weiner.
The two began discussing the potential threat of an increase in scattered terrorism if the Islamic State’s institutions were to diminish. Comey agreed when Graham asked him if, from a funding perspective, terrorism would get worse if this happens.
Graham then shifted to Weiner’s computer, which the FBI linked to Hillary Clinton in 2016 during its widely publicized classified email investigation.
Comey said classified information was forwarded to Weiner’s computer. Graham said Weiner shouldn’t have had access to classified information and Comey agreed, adding that there is a possibility that a crime was committed.
“Would you agree that it should be that anybody who that lets Anthony Weiner have classified information should probably be prosecuted? If our laws don't cover that, they probably should,” Graham asked.
“There's no Anthony Weiner statute,” Comey said.
Shifting the topic to Russia, Comey agreed with Graham’s assessment that Russia is a safe haven for cyber criminals. Comey added that Russian hackers tried to meddle with voter registration systems, but said there was no indication of changes in vote tallies.
Graham also questioned Comey about Carter Page, a former adviser to President Donald Trump and oil industry consultant with ties to Russia through his energy investment firm Global Energy Capital LLC.
Last month, Page revealed he was under Department of Justice surveillance for suspicions of possibly acting as a foreign agent for Russia.
Comey refused to answer if he considered Page an agent and whether there was a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against him.
Comey said he had been in contact with Former Attorney General Sally Yates, who is expected testify about Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser pick, in Congress next week. Yates reportedly warned Trump about Flynn’s Russian contacts, connections that ultimately led to Flynn being fired in February.
Comey was tight-lipped about his talk with Yates but confirmed that she expressed her concerns about Flynn to him.