CNN cut away from a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday morning, seconds after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) raised concerns that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had hired a former Clinton Foundation attorney to assist with the probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Graham was questioning Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was sitting in for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Democrats have long accused the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia, though no evidence has emerged. There is also speculation that Special Counsel Mueller will probe allegations of obstruction of justice against President Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, reports emerged that Mueller had hired attorneys for his investigative team who had donated to Hillary Clinton in the past, and one in particular who had represented the Clinton Foundation in its effort to block Freedom of Information Act requests for e-mails on Clinton’s private server.
Graham: Is giving political donations a reason to disqualify somebody for serving in the Special Counsel’s office?
Rosenstein: No, Senator, it is not a disqualification. It is not.
Graham: As a matter of fact, many states, the judges and prosecutors are actually elected. Donations are a part of that system, is that correct?
Rosenstein: Yes, that’s true.
Graham: Would it be a disqualification for somebody in the Special Counsel’s office who had represented Mrs. Clinton in the past to serve?
Rosenstein: You know, Senator, it would depend on facts and circumstances. As a general matter, I think the answer is no.
Graham: Isn’t that much closer to a conflict of interest?