U.S. Republican Graham curious on Trump business deals

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday he wants to know more about President Donald Trump’s business dealings in relation to Russia, but that congressional investigations may have to avoid the matter if they conflict with an FBI probe.

Graham asked former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Monday whether he had concerns about Russian ties to Trump’s business interests. Clapper said he could not comment because the issue could be a subject of an ongoing investigation.

CNN reported on Tuesday that Graham intended to look into Trump’s business ties to see if any connections exist between Russia and the Trump campaign or the president’s associates.

The White House said it would welcome any fact-finding by Graham and the subcommittee, which he chairs, saying the president has no business ties to Russia.

“He has no business in Russia; he has no connections to Russia,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters. “So he welcomes that.”

Spicer added that Trump had directed a law firm to send Graham a certified letter stating as much.

While Graham expressed interest in finding out whether Trump’s business interests had any Russia ties, he said the subcommittee may have to “steer clear” of the issue if it conflicts with the FBI’s probe of Russia and the Trump campaign.

He clarified later that he had not taken any new actions.

“This is nothing new here,” he told reporters at the Capitol. “I’m not a prosecutor. But if you ask me if I want to know if there are any Trump business ties to Russia that are inappropriate, the answer would be ‘yes.’”

Graham told CNN it would be helpful to see Trump’s tax records but that it was too soon to say whether he would be willing to subpoena them, the network said.

Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Andrea Ricci