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Graham on leaked documents: ‘Some people need to be fired’

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(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said people need to be held accountable following a stunning leak of classified documents that did “a lot of damage.”

“I don’t know what led to this airman’s actions, but he’s done a lot of damage in our standing. It’s very hard to get people to come forward right now to tell us about things we need to know about if they feel like they’re going to be compromised,” Graham, a former Air National guardsman, told This Week co-host Jonathan Karl.

“The question is how they did it, and why did they do it? And some people need to be fired over this.”

Last week, Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air Force National Guard, was charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and willful retention of classified documents, which collectively carry a maximum of 15 years in prison.

The documents Teixeira allegedly leaked first appeared on the platform Discord, a site often used by gaming enthusiasts. They were first shared with a small group before being more widely noticed.

The leak set off a firestorm in the Biden administration and intelligence community over details the documents laid bare over Russia’s war in Ukraine, U.S. spying efforts on allies and more.

Graham said he would have been shocked if he had the kind of intelligence access Teixeira had while he was in the military. He said the leak indicated broader systemic issues, while also swiping at members of the GOP’s right flank who have come to Teixeira’s defense.

“The system failed. This is a major failure,” he said. “And those who are trying to sugarcoat this on the right, you cannot allow a single individual of the military intelligence community to leak classified information because they disagree with policy.”

“There is no justification for this, and for any member of Congress to suggest it’s okay to leak classified information, because you agree with a cause is terribly irresponsible and puts America in serious danger,” he later added.

Graham also defended his previous legislative efforts to impose a federal 15-week abortion ban while saying he would wait for a likely upcoming Supreme Court decision on the accessibility of mifepristone, a pill commonly used in abortions. The high court issued a temporary stay of a ruling by a district judge in Texas that would have suspended the pill’s Food and Drug Administration’s approval.

“I don’t like a district court judge issuing an actual decree, even if I agree with the judge,” Graham told Karl. “I think the radical abortion policies of the Biden administration are wrong. But at the end of the day, we’re a rule of law nation, and let’s see what the Supreme Court does with this.”

When Karl pressed Graham on his recent meetings with Saudi Arabian officials after he pledged not do so following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the senator defended the meetings, saying, “Saudi Arabia [is] changing very quickly for the better.”

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