POLITICS

Lindsey Graham Says He's 'Made Up' His Mind Before Trump’s Senate Trial Even Starts

"I don't need any witnesses," the lawmaker said Sunday, shortly before the House votes on two articles of impeachment.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday he had already made up his mind about President Donald Trump’s culpability in the impeachment inquiry, even though the House has yet to vote on the charges and the Senate has not yet begun a trial.

“I think what’s best for the country is to get this thing over with,” Graham, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said Sunday. “I am clearly made up my mind. I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain for the accusations in the process.”

He said he didn’t “need any witnesses” during a potential trial in the Senate. The White House has stonewalled House subpoenas for documents and testimony from officials with direct knowledge of Trump’s behavior.

The House is set to vote on two articles of impeachment against the president in the coming days related to his behavior surrounding a call with the leader of Ukraine: One for abuse of power and the other on obstruction of Congress. Trump has been accused of pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son in exchange for the release of nearly $400 million in military aid and a prestigious visit to the White House.

If the impeachment articles are passed, Trump would become just the third president in American history to be impeached. The Senate would hold a trial early next year to determine if he should be removed from office, but two-thirds of the chamber would have to vote to do so, which is unlikely as Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.

Graham is one of the president’s most vocal defenders in Congress and has long accused Democrats of attempting to overturn the results of the 2016 election. He echoed that criticism on Sunday, saying the party had begun “weaponizing impeachment.”

“What you’re doing in the House is bad for the presidency. You’re impeaching the president of the United States in a matter of weeks, not months,” Graham told host Margaret Brennan, saying Trump had been “shut out” of the impeachment process. “I want to end it. I don’t want to legitimize it. I hate what they’re doing.” 

Contrary to Graham’s claims, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) invited Trump to participate in hearings, saying the president had the right to review any evidence leveled against him or call witnesses. The White House refused the offer, saying the effort was “highly partisan” and violated “all past historical precedent” in a scathing letter.

Republican leaders have continued to defend the president throughout the impeachment process and many in the Senate have already begun to come to his defense. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday he didn’t believe any member of the party in the chamber planned to vote to remove Trump from office, saying there was “no chance” the president would be ousted.

McConnell also said Senate Republicans would be coordinating their positions with White House attorneys throughout the process.

“We have no choice but to take it up. But we’ll be working through this process, hopefully in a short period of time, in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people representing the president in the well of the Senate,” McConnell said at the time.

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