Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday claimed the upcoming impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump will be unconstitutional due to its timing, and predicted Trump will “get his share of blame in history” for the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last month.
“I think I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to end the impeachment trial, because I think it’s blatantly unconstitutional,” Graham, who has been one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress, said in an interview with CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
Graham’s claim of the trial being unconstitutional is not based on the substance of the charge against the former president, who’s accused of inciting an insurrection against the U.S. government leading to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Rather, Graham’s argument hinges on Trump no longer being in office.
“We have never impeached a president once they are out of office,” Graham said Sunday. “I think this is a very bad idea.”
Only three U.S. presidents have ever been impeached, those being Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump. Trump is the only president to be impeached twice.
The Constitution is ambiguous on whether a former president can be tried in this manner. Democrats have argued that since the article of impeachment was submitted against Trump before he left office, he can still be held accountable via the impeachment process.
Because Trump is now a private citizen and not a sitting president, Graham instead suggested that criminal charges can be filed against him ― not that Graham thinks Trump did anything criminal.
“The president’s behavior in my view is not a crime, but he can be charged with one if people think he committed one, because he is now a private citizen,” Graham said Sunday.