MSNBC interrupted coverage of Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) on Wednesday to claim he had lied about Robert Mueller's report concluding "no collusion" between Donald Trump's campaign and the Russians.
Before Attorney General William Barr testified, Graham defended the integrity of the Russia investigation and said Mueller's team had concluded "there was no collusion."
"He was allowed to do his job," Graham said. "So, no collusion. No coordination. No conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government regarding the 2016 election."
As Graham went on, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams cut in to say, "We're reluctant to do this. We rarely do, but the chairman of the Judiciary Committee just said that Mueller found there was no collusion. That is not correct. Nicolle Wallace, the report says collusion is not a thing they considered. It doesn't exist in federal code."
"What's stunning is that Lindsey Graham is offering answers to questions that aren't on the table today," Wallace said. "The question on the table today after the reporting last night is why did Barr mischaracterize what was actually in the Mueller report. I'm sorry, Lindsey Graham, but your defensiveness is showing. To talk about everything that went into it and then in the next breath distort it, is a stunning, stunning mischaracterization of what the whole exercise is supposed to be about."
"We try to offer just gavel to gavel coverage but that phrase or the lack of it, its absence from federal code," Williams said, "This no collusion mantra is so foundational to why we're here today that we decided to flag it when we heard him use it yet again."
MSNBC returned to Graham's statement, but it later put up a screen graphic saying Graham had "moments ago" "falsely" claimed there was "no collusion." Collusion is not a crime as defined in the federal penal code, although it was frequently employed as a catch-all for allegations of illegal coordination or conspiracy between Trump's team and the Russians.
MSNBC graphic says Graham 'falsely claims' no collusion found by Mueller. pic.twitter.com/LzwDXWgsL8
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) May 1, 2019
Mueller's investigation concluded that the Russians believed they would benefit from a Trump presidency and "worked to secure that outcome," but it did not establish anyone with the Trump campaign "conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
Wallace, a staunch opponent of the Trump White House, said before the hearing there would be "collusion" between Graham and Barr during the hearing and blasted the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee as some of the "Trumpiest" members of Congress.