Law & the Courts

Lindsey Graham Claims Early Senate Impeachment Dismissal ‘Not Going to Happen’

Senator Lindsey Graham (R, S.C.) (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) said Sunday that the Senate will have the chance to call witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Trump, stating “the idea of dismissing the case early on is not going to happen.”

Graham — who echoed President Trump’s description of impeachment as a “lynching” in October — explained that because Republicans “don’t have the votes” for an immediate dismissal of the articles, the trial will follow “the Clinton Model” of hearing opening arguments and then voting on witnesses.

“That’s dead for practical purposes,” Graham said of immediate dismissal to Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday. “There are a lot of senators who I think will wind up acquitting the president, but believe that we need to hear the House’s case, the president’s answer to the House’s case, and ask questions, and then that’s when the witness requests will be.”

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell had been pushing for a trial with the same parameters as former president Bill Clinton’s, and forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handing over of the articles after securing the 51 votes necessary to set the rules of the trial. But Senate Republicans have shifted away from immediately dismissing the articles in recent weeks, with reports last week highlighting the desire of certain moderates to call witnesses.

Graham and Republicans could end up calling Hunter Biden as a witness to explore an alleged conflict of interest with his previous board role in Ukraine. In November, the South Carolina Republican asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to provide documents relevant to the investigation into his probe of the Bidens, despite his “friendship” with Joe Biden.

“I’m doing this because somebody needs to do it,” Graham later told Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade to defend his move. “We’re not going to allow a system in America where only one side gets looked at.”

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