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Graham defends ‘riots in the streets’ comment, says he tried to ‘state the obvious’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speak during a news conference on Capitol Hill July 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has defended his recent warning of “riots in the streets” former US President Donald Trump is prosecuted for his handling of classified documents that the FBI agents uncovered during an unprecedented search of his private residence earlier this month.

“What I tried to do was state the obvious,” the South Carolina senator said on Sunday while speaking with CNBC ’s Steve Sedgwick during an interview at the Ambrosetti Forum in Italy.

“Here’s what I said: The raid on President Trump’s home, the likely nominee for 2024, better bear some fruit here,” Graham continued. “If it’s just about mishandling classified information, we’ve had a standard set when it came to Hillary Clinton.”

Federal agents executed a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on August 8.

According to the US Justice Department, FBI agents seized 11 sets of classified documents, including those marked as top secret.

Among other things, FBI agents sought classified documents pertaining to nuclear weapons during the raid, according to a report.

The Washington Post, citing informed sources and experts, reported the search underscores the concern among government officials about the types of information located at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach club where Trump lives, and the danger of it falling into wrong hands.

The report quoted experts as saying that material about nuclear weapons is "especially sensitive and usually restricted to a small number of government officials", adding that publicizing details about them could "provide an intelligence roadmap to adversaries seeking to build ways of countering those systems."

The FBI raid and search was connected to the Justice Department’s investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act.

Some observers have speculated about whether Trump will ultimately be prosecuted over this.

Senator Graham warned last Sunday during an interview with Fox News’s host Trey Gowdy, a former lawmaker who chaired the House’s select committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attack that uncovered a private email server used by Clinton.

"Most Republicans, including me, believe when it comes to Trump, there is no law. It's all about getting him,” Graham told Gowdy, adding, “And I'll say this, if there is a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle… there will be riots in the streets.”

Republicans have repeatedly referenced the scandal in characterizing any potential prosecution of Trump as a double standard.

“Our country, the people on our side, believe that when it comes to the justice system, there are no rules regarding Trump,” Graham said on Saturday, adding that it’s a case of “‘Get him. It doesn’t matter how you get him,’ so I said that if it’s similar to what happened to Clinton and he gets prosecuted, it’ll be one of the most disruptive events in America.”

The US Justice Department unsealed a key document related to its investigation of Trump; an affidavit used by the investigators to obtain a search warrant that allowed FBI agents to raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on August 8.

The redacted affidavit showed that 184 documents bearing classification markings were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in January. This is in addition to 11 sets of classified documents, including some marked “top secret,” that the FBI uncovered from Trump’s residence this month.

The affidavit and other legal documents are at the heart of a months-long effort by the Department of Justice to get back classified materials that Trump had taken from the White House before leaving office in January 2021.

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