Graham asks if AIPAC is a ‘Foreign Agent’

WASHINGTON – During a Senate hearing on Wednesday morning, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Adam Hickey, a senior U.S. Department of Justice official, whether AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) should “register as a foreign agent.” The South Carolina lawmaker explained his question by adding, “They come up here in droves: lobbying Congress to do things, in their view good for the U.S.-Israel relationship. I know they have a lot of contacts in Israel. Should somebody like that be a foreign agent?”

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday titled: “Oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and attempts to influence U.S. elections; lessons learned from current and prior administrations.” Much of the discussion focused on Russia and its attempts to influence the 2016 presidential elections.

Along with his close friend John McCain (R-AZ), Graham is one of Israel’s strongest supporters in Congress and has spoken before AIPAC audiences on numerous occasions.

“I’m not suggesting that AIPAC is doing anything wrong, quite the contrary, they are a group of Americans who have banded together to maximize their influence to speak about something important to them that involves a foreign ally so I think the AIPAC model is a good thing and that’s not my concern because they are very transparent,” Graham said. “They have conventions and we all know how the game is played there so I just want to make sure that lobbying on behalf of a foreign government or a U.S. relationship with a foreign government is not a bad thing as long as you do it right.”

Kevin Bishop, Communications Director for Senator Graham, told Jewish Insider via email: “Graham was not criticizing AIPAC in any way.”

In contrast with AIPAC, Graham objected to former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn who wrote an op-ed in The Hill last year calling on the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey, a hardline position demanded by President Erdogan for allegedly fomenting a coup. “I didn’t know at the time that he was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from a group that was representing Turkey. That is the kind of thing that we want to get a hold of,” Graham explained.

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