But that’s not what Graham said more than 20 years ago during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. In footage that resurfaced online this week, Graham ― then one of the House impeachment managers ― made a strong and compelling case for all impeachment proceedings to have witnesses.
“In every trial that there’s ever been in the Senate regarding impeachment, witnesses were called,” Graham said in 1999.
He observed that if witnesses were forbidden, it would leave all the work up to the House Judiciary Committee and/or independent counsel prior to reaching the Senate. The “big problem” with that, he said, was that “impeachment in the House is not the trial.” It takes place in the Senate, and without witnesses, the House won’t be able to present its case.
“That would be bad for impeachment law, that would be against precedent and I hope that doesn’t happen here,” he said at the time.
In the clip, Graham slammed a witness-free impeachment as “three days of lawyers talking to each other.” Then, he made a strong case for what a witness brings to the proceedings:
“When you have a witness who was there, who was engaged in it, who was in the middle of it, telling you about what they were doing and why, that’s a totally different case ― and it’s the difference between getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
Graham also called on the Senate to vote their conscience regarding witnesses to ensure a meaningful trial.
“The process is just as important as the result,” he said.