Graham says House Democrats “weaponizing” impeachment: “This whole thing is a crock”

Author: Emily Tillett / Face the Nation
Published: Updated:
Sen. Lindsey Graham. (Credit: Face the Nation)
Sen. Lindsey Graham. (Credit: Face the Nation)

Staunch Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham is slamming Democrats for “shutting the president out” of the House impeachment process, claiming members of Congress are “weaponizing impeachment” for future presidents to come.

“I have nothing but disdain for this,” Graham told CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” claiming the quick timeline of the House probe was “bad for the presidency.”

“I think this whole thing is a crock,” he said. “You’re shutting the president out. The process in the House, any partisan group could do this in the future. You’re weaponizing impeachment. And I want to end it. I don’t want to legitimize it. I hate what they’re doing.”

Over the course of the impeachment saga, however, the White House repeatedly defied House subpoenas for documents and blocked key administration officials from testifying in inquiry into President Trump’s alleged quid pro quo arrangement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

While the probe now moves to the full House for a vote on two articles of impeachment and then to the Senate for trial, Graham suggested he would be willing to hear directly from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani concerning his dealings with Ukrainian officials – an area of concern cited directly in House Democrats’ impeachment report.

Giuliani recently suggested to CBS News’ Paula Reid that when he was in Ukraine in the past few days he had to purchase a separate suitcase because he came back with so many documents for a counter-report he wants to compose.

“Rudy if you want to come and tell us what you found I’d be glad to talk to you,” Graham said. “I don’t know what Rudy found. I don’t know what he was up to when he was in the Ukraine.”

Graham has voiced support for a shortened version of a Senate trial, as opposed to weeks-long testimony – something the president himself said he would be willing to consider. He said he wants the process to end “as quickly as possible,” adding, “I don’t want to legitimize it.”

Part of that speedy process, according to Graham, could entail witness testimony from Giuliani.

“I want to end this matter quickly and move on to other things. We can look at what Rudy’s got and Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and anything else you want to look at after impeachment, but if Rudy wants to come to Judiciary Committee and testify about what he found he’s welcome to do so,” Graham added.

Lindsey Graham: “I love Joe Biden, but none of us are above scrutiny”

As Democrats and Republicans in Congress battle over impeachment, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham says he’s pushing forward with his own probe of a close friend, former vice president and current 2020 contender Joe Biden.

“I love Joe Biden, but none of us are above scrutiny,” Graham told “Face the Nation,” when asked about Biden’s recent comment that Graham’s approach to the Ukraine scandal is something he would “regret his whole life.” Graham has promised to look into son Hunter Biden’s work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma, echoing a demand from President Trump that’s at the center of the impeachment proceedings against him.

“You want to talk about Ukraine, it’s pretty hard for me to go home and tell my constituents to ignore the fact that Hunter Biden received $50,000 a month from a gas company in the Ukraine, run by the most corrupt person in the Ukraine, and two months after the gas company was investigated, the prosecutor got fired,” Graham told “Face the Nation.”

Hunter Biden was hired to serve on the board of Burisma in 2014 when his father was vice president. In 2016, the elder Biden successfully pushed for the firing of Ukraine’s prosecutor-general, who was widely seen as unwilling or unable to crack down on corruption. Mr. Trump and his allies have accused Biden of pushing for the prosecutor’s ouster to protect Burisma, but the company was not under investigation at the time of the firing, and the U.S. and Western allies were unanimous in their belief that the prosecutor should be fired.

Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter last month requesting documents from the State Department, including records of calls between Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about Burisma and the fired prosecutor.

“Joe Biden is a friend. He’s one of the most decent people I’ve ever met in my life. But here’s the deal. This whole process around the Ukraine reeks with politics,” Graham said. “They’ve done everything but take a wrecking ball to Donald Trump and his family. We’re not going to live in a world where only Republicans get looked at.”

While it’s not clear if the State Department will comply with Graham’s requests, the move was part of a full-court press by Republicans to defend Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine by redirecting attention to the Bidens.

“I don’t know if there’s anything to this. I hope not. I hope I can look at the transcripts of the phone call between Biden in the Ukraine, Joe Biden, after the investigation began, and say there’s no there, there. These are legitimate concerns about what happened in the Ukraine,” Graham said.

Graham also suggested the White House would be interested in calling both Bidens as witnesses as the probe moves to the Senate trial. But Graham said he is “ready to vote on the underlying articles. I don’t really need to hear a lot of witnesses.”

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