Lindsey Graham Press Conference Speech Transcript: Graham Introduces Resolution to Impeachment Process
Lindsey Graham held a press conference today and introduced a resolution condemning the House impeachment process, and calls on the House to vote on the resolution. The resolution has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a co-sponsor. Read the full transcript of Lindsey Graham’s press conference right here at Rev.com
Lindsey Graham: (00:28)
Hope you get overtime, I apologize. Okay. Where’s our chart people at? Charts over here.
Speaker 3: (00:37)
Right here, sir.
Lindsey Graham: (00:37)
Okay. Thank you very much. I have introduced a resolution today with Senator McConnell and the purpose of the resolution is to let the House know that the process you’re engaging in regarding the attempted impeachment of President Trump is out of bounds. It’s inconsistent with due process as we know it. It’s a Star Chamber type inquiry and it’s a substantial deviation from what the House has done in the past regarding impeachment of other presidents.
Lindsey Graham: (01:09)
And one I can speak of very firmly is the impeachment of President Clinton. So when I want to highlight here, well no this one. In 2019, Congressman Al Green wanted to open up an impeachment inquiry, which is the right way to do it, by the way. 137 Democrats voted with the GOP against impeaching President Trump, not one Republican for an inquiry. And what’s happened is that the attempt to open up an inquiry of impeachment against President Trump failed miserably. So they’ve created a new process that I think is very dangerous for the country.
Lindsey Graham: (01:51)
Instead of the Judiciary looking at a potential impeachable offense, they’ve created a process in the Intel Committee that’s behind closed doors, doesn’t provide access to the president’s accuser, shuts Republicans out for all practical purposes and is a unworthy substitute for the way you need to do it, is at its core un-American. And I can tell you what we did in the past.
Lindsey Graham: (02:17)
Let’s go to ’98. In 1998, in October we had an impeachment inquiry vote on the floor of the House. I was there, 31 Democrats voted to open up an impeachment inquiry and after that inquiry… Where’s the other chart. These were the rights given to President Clinton, his team and members of the minority. None of this exists today.
Lindsey Graham: (02:50)
What’s going on is they run around the impeachment process creating a secret proceeding behind closed doors, that fundamentally is in my view, denies due process, and when you’re talking about removing the President of the United States, seems to me you’d want to have a process that is consistent with who we are as Americans. And consistent with what Bill Clinton was allowed to do, Richard Nixon was allowed to do and the process in the House today, I think, is danger to the future of the presidency. Because if you can drive down a president’s poll numbers by having proceedings where you selectively leak information, where the president, who’s the subject of all of this, is pretty much shut out. God, help future presidents.
Lindsey Graham: (03:40)
I’ve got 41 co-sponsors on the Republican side and climbing and here’s the request. If you believe you have a case against the president, vote to open up an inquiry, allow Republicans to have a say, make sure the president is allowed to participate in a meaningful manner, like we did in the past. That’s the way to do it. What you’re doing today, in my view, is unfair to the president, and is dangerous to the presidency and I think 41 Republican senators and growing is a strong signal to our House colleagues that you’re off script here. There’s a way to do it, a right way and a wrong way and you’ve chosen the wrong way.
Lindsey Graham: (04:25)
Speaker 4: (04:25)
Chairman Graham, your committee interviewed half a dozen people behind closed doors in your Russia investigation, Donald Trump, Jr., Glen Simpson, Robert Goldstone, and then you released the transcripts at the end. How’s that any different from what the House is doing now?
Lindsey Graham: (04:37)
I didn’t interview any of these witnesses. That was pretty much intel.
Speaker 4: (04:45)
But this is the Judiciary Committee.
Lindsey Graham: (04:46)
Yeah, this is what I’m saying, this is not an informal, we’re looking at the Russian investigation, Mueller testified, so this was all about Mueller. So here’s what happened to Ken Starr spent almost five years looking at Clinton. He came before the committee. We had an impeachment inquiry vote. Ken Starr put forth to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the 11 allegations against President Clinton. We passed four articles of impeachment based on the Starr report. That was transparent subject to cross examination and public. It was a public hearing and two of those articles passed the House.
Lindsey Graham: (05:27)
What Mueller did was investigate the president for two years, spent $25 million and did not recommend any action. That’s the difference.
Speaker 5: (05:39)
When it comes to impeachment messaging. It seems like the White House has changed course multiple times. At this point-
Lindsey Graham: (05:45)
Have you noticed?
Speaker 5: (05:46)
At this point, are you confident that you guys were on the same page and is it the Hill now leading this messaging strategy?
Lindsey Graham: (05:52)
So I talked to the Chief of Staff Mulvaney. I think they’re working on getting a messaging team together. You know I was involved impeachment of President Clinton. I know this sounds weird, but Clinton, look what he did. What he did is he had a team that was organized, had legal minds that could understand what was being said versus the legal proceedings in question, and they were on message every day. The President Clinton defended himself, but he never stopped being president.
Lindsey Graham: (06:29)
And I think one of the reasons that he survived is that the public may not have liked what the president had done, but believe that he was still able to do his job and as he governed during impeachment, I think, that was probably the single best thing he did, quite frankly to avoid [crosstalk 00:06:50].
Speaker 6: (06:52)
Senator [crosstalk 00:00:06:51].
Speaker 5: (06:54)
Have you made that case with the president?
Lindsey Graham: (06:54)
I’m hoping that will become the model here.
Speaker 6: (06:55)
Senator, you referred to Robert Mueller’s investigation and Ken Starr’s investigation, there is no prosecutor looking into the allegations that the combined House communities a looking into. Now you were a prosecutor, sir. Would you ever have conducted an investigation in which your witnesses were allowed to speak in public and give other witnesses the opportunity for them to get their stories straight?
Lindsey Graham: (07:23)
That’s actually a very good point. I mean during the whole Mueller investigation, I backed off of calling a lot of the key witnesses because I didn’t want to get in his lane. Now I’m being asked by Republican folks out in the Republican world, why don’t you call Adam Schiff? Well, I think that would do a lot of damage to the country for a senator to call a member of the House, you have a speech and debate problem, but if you think Adam Schiff is a fact witness, why isn’t Donald Trump a fact witness. The point is that’s not a process that I think will withstand scrutiny. Durham is looking at potential misconduct about things that happened in 2016, particularly involving the Ukraine-
Speaker 6: (08:08)
But this isn’t about 2016, Senator. This is about what the president has been doing with Ukraine along with his personal lawyer and the justice department has declined to investigate that-
Lindsey Graham: (08:18)
Speaker 6: (08:18)
So what… I mean there’s no prosecutor looking into it and so the House has to do the job of prosecutor that’s what they’re saying.
Lindsey Graham: (08:25)
Well, here’s what I’d would say, are you suggesting there needs to be a special counselor for Ukraine?
Speaker 6: (08:29)
Would you support a special counselor?
Lindsey Graham: (08:30)
I think that’s… Well, here’s what I’ve been trying to get a special counsel to look at all things 2016 from our side. Mueller gave the Trump campaign a pretty-
Speaker 6: (08:39)
But this isn’t about 2016-
Lindsey Graham: (08:39)
Speaker 6: (08:39)
Lindsey Graham: (08:40)
But it is to me. Here’s the process. Why did I support Mueller? To me there was a conflict at the Justice Department. Why did I introduce legislation that you can only fire Mueller for cause? Because I thought it was important for the country, for somebody outside politics to look at this. I think somebody outside politics should look at the things that I’m concerned about in 2016. You may not be, but I think the FISA warrant application could be considered a fraud on the court. We’ll see from Horowitz, I’m not a prosecutor-
Speaker 6: (09:14)
Lindsey Graham: (09:14)
… so when it comes to whether or not somebody other than the House should look at Ukraine, I want to look at all things. Yeah.
Speaker 7: (09:23)
Lindsey Graham: (09:24)
Speaker 7: (09:25)
[crosstalk 00:09:25] Senator Graham-
Speaker 8: (09:25)
Senator, you said this is secret and illegitimate process, what do you say-
Lindsey Graham: (09:28)
That’s my view.
Speaker 8: (09:29)
And so what do you say to the argument that 47 of your Republican House colleagues, who serve on these committees, they have the right to be in there? It’s not secret. It’s not one party, it’s bipartisan.
Lindsey Graham: (09:41)
I would say that if we pulled this stunt, you’d be eating us alive.
Speaker 8: (09:44)
Can I followup?
Lindsey Graham: (09:46)
Let me finish and let me tell you why. How many people have asked me about Bill Taylor’s opening statement? All I can say is if we had Rudy Giuliani’s opening statement and he said, I did nothing wrong. I doubt if you would accept that. So 47 Republican House members feel like it’s not working for them. They feel like that Volcker’s testimony has been selectively released. Radcliffe’s cross examination of Taylor is not available to you. So the people that you just named are as upset as I am. And here’s what I would say. There’s a way to do it. Give President Trump these rights that every other President Nixon, Clinton have had and take a vote to allow the House to be on record authorizing this.
Lindsey Graham: (10:35)
This is a rogue action by single committee of the House that has never done impeachment inquiries before, and I think it’s dangerous to the presidency.
Speaker 8: (10:44)
But in the case of-
Lindsey Graham: (10:45)
Those 47 don’t agree with you.
Speaker 8: (10:48)
In the case of Richard Nixon, the House began its impeachment inquiry behind closed doors in October of 1973-
Lindsey Graham: (10:57)
Did they have a vote of inquiry?
Speaker 8: (10:57)
Held secret hearings. They did not have an impeachment resolution until months later in 1974, so it’s similar to this.
Lindsey Graham: (11:04)
Here’s, here’s what I’m saying. Nixon eventually resigned. Peter Rodino designed the process. I remember the Watergate hearings very well. Jim Rogan, who was an impeachment manager with me during the Clinton impeachment went up to meet with Rodino to try to find out how they did it, and Newt knows this better than I do. I think the American people were not with us on substance when it came to Clinton, but I do believe what we did very much mirrored the Watergate, way of doing business. I remember the Watergate hearings. I don’t remember any hearings in public about whether or not Donald Trump did something wrong in the Ukraine.
Lindsey Graham: (11:46)
And here’s what… This is why Republicans are so frustrated. If we had done this to a Democrat, you’d be eating us alive. If we took an opening statement of a witness and said, there, doesn’t that look bad, you’d want to know, well, did anybody question the witness? How did cross examination go? So we believe that a lot of people want to get Trump and they don’t give a damn about how they get him. I’m not telling you what he did or didn’t do. I’m telling you what they’re doing in the House is dangerous to the country.
Speaker 10: (12:16)
What can you tell us about your lunch today with the president what happened?
Lindsey Graham: (12:19)
It was good. We had beef. So here’s some news. We had a situation room briefing by General Milley about developments in Syria. There were 8 or 10 senators. There’s a plan coming together from the Joint Chiefs that I think may work that may give us what we need to prevent ISIS from coming back. Iran taking the oil, ISIS from taking the oil. I am somewhat encouraged that a plan is coming about that will meet our core objectives in Syria.
Lindsey Graham: (12:51)
As to the lunch, he felt like from the time he’s become president, he’s been hounded about things he didn’t do. He feels like it never ends and that when it comes to Donald Trump, nobody really cares if he has a fair day in court, but a handful of Republicans, I don’t know what to tell him other than I told him every time he said Muller was a witch hunt, which was like every day, I said, I’m not going there because I actually know Mueller.
Lindsey Graham: (13:23)
And when I introduced the resolution, making sure Mueller could not be fired unless there was cause, he didn’t like that, but I said, Mr. President, I know you’re frustrated. There’s nothing worse than being accused of something you didn’t do. It just eats away at your soul. And we made it through Mueller. We didn’t do any real damage to the idea of nobody’s above the law. I think Mueller had a really good opportunity to look at all things, Russia and Trump.
Lindsey Graham: (13:53)
Now here we are again with the Ukraine. I’ve told you what I think about the phone call. To me it’s not an impeachable offense. I’ve got no problem with the phone call. But you got other people coming forward. You’ve got the President of the Ukraine saying, no, there was no quid pro quo. All I am saying is that you tried an impeachment inquiry vote and you failed and now you’re creating a process and the Intel Committee that I think is Star Chamber like and it needs to end.
Speaker 11: (14:21)
Senator Graham. Senator, if the Senate ends up having to sit in a trial. How does a vote on something like this not totally taint the jury pool?
Lindsey Graham: (14:28)
Well, if you think impeachment is a nonpolitical event, you’re wrong.
Lindsey Graham: (14:35)
There are court hearings in South Carolina. Let me tell you about the first one I ever had. I represented a guy for speeding. We went to the magistrate. We had a trial and the magistrate was the highway patrol officers uncle. That didn’t go well.
Lindsey Graham: (14:54)
So what I am trying to say is at the end of the day, the Senate should be letting the House know that if you’re going to continue this kind of process and it results in articles of impeachment, we do not consider this, in my view, I consider it to be out of bounds with what we’ve done in the past, void of basic due process. We’re not telling the House you can’t impeach the president. What we’re telling the House, 41 of us that there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.
Lindsey Graham: (15:25)
And let me tell you about being a juror. I sat there for five weeks in the Senate and a juror made a motion to dismiss in a court of law juries can’t get up and say, I want to dismiss the case. So this is one part legal and two part politics. And what I’m trying to tell Republicans out there that it is okay for the Republican party to insist that Donald Trump be treated fairly. And a lot of senators are going to tell you since I may be a juror, I don’t want to comment on substance, but I’m hoping we can get most Republicans to comment on the idea that the impeachment proceedings as currently constituted in the House are unfair and dangerous.
Lindsey Graham: (16:13)
Speaker 12: (16:15)
Didn’t House Republicans use closed door depositions prior to public hearings during the Clinton impeachment?
Lindsey Graham: (16:21)
Speaker 12: (16:22)
Why was it okay then, but you don’t like it now?
Lindsey Graham: (16:24)
In October of 1998 we authorized impeachment as a body with 31 members saying do an inquiry. Some were behind closed doors, but the inquiry itself became very public. We had the Starr hearing to start it off with, but the president participated in a very meaningful way, so what’s missing here is the House authorizing this inquiry. What’s missing here, is the 47 Republicans you talked about that are participating feel like it’s not a fair process. They can’t participate in a way that’s meaningful.
Speaker 13: (16:58)
Lindsey Graham: (16:59)
Speaker 13: (16:59)
If the Senate had tried to interfere with the House impeachment process back in the ’90s under Clinton. How would you have reacted?
Lindsey Graham: (17:07)
I think if we were doing this, you’d be beating the shit out of us. I think if a Republican were doing to a Democrat what we’re doing, you would be all over me. And I think it says a lot about people in your business, with all due respect, I am confident that if we had an Intel Committee inquiry involving a Democratic president where we selected to leak stuff, you’d be calling us every kind of bad name and we would deserve it. So what I am saying is there’s a right way to do it, and wrong way to do it and this is a dangerous way to do it. One more question.
Speaker 14: (17:41)
Can I just follow up, Senator… I’m sorry.
Lindsey Graham: (17:43)
Well, we’ll let you both.
Speaker 13: (17:44)
Okay. Just quickly, right now you’re focusing a lot on the process. Democrats have made clear that they want to release the transcripts and hold public hearings. Should the White House be [inaudible 00:17:52] once that happens?
Lindsey Graham: (17:53)
Here’s what I’m saying. What they’re doing is selectively leaking the information to drive the president’s poll numbers down and to drive the momentum for impeachment up. Everything coming out of this Star Chamber process is being leaked by Democrats. They said you heard Bill Taylor, I was breathless. Well, the point is you don’t know what Bill Taylor was asked, we don’t know if he was cross-examined, and what unfolded. So what you have here is a hearing, a process that is, to me not sufficient for due process, it’s being used in a politically dangerous fashion. If you open up one of these things in the future against a Democrat and we selectively leak things and we shut out the Democratic president from having a chance to participate, please use my words against us.
Speaker 14: (18:46)
So I just… Thank you, Senator. I just wanted to follow up a little bit more on the lunch and in general the direction that you’ve gotten from the White House and from the president himself.
Speaker 14: (18:55)
Can you tell us a little bit more about what he said, he’d like you do? Is he supportive of this effort? Did he talk about being more aggressive on his behalf?
Lindsey Graham: (19:03)
This is right.
Speaker 14: (19:04)
And have you heard from him over the last 10 days or so that the witnesses have been coming out about his frustration…
Lindsey Graham: (19:11)
Right. He was in a good mood. He appreciated the lunch. He would like the process to be exposed for being basically unfair. He keeps telling us he did nothing wrong. He keeps telling me that the phone call was perfect. I’m saying, Mr. President, the phone call was okay with me. He feels like it never stops. That he’s been in office what, three years now and every time he turns around there’s another reason that his family, his friends, he’s got to pay legal bills and that he feels like he doesn’t have a real fair chance of being President of the United States. He thought it would be over with Muller.
Lindsey Graham: (19:52)
And here’s what I would say. I don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of Ukraine. I’ve gotten my own view about the letter. I’m not here to tell you that Donald Trump’s done nothing wrong. I’m not here to tell you anything other than that the way they’re going about it is really dangerous for the country and we need to change course while we can in the House, because what’s happening in the House, in my view, and the view of at least 41 Republicans is not acceptable.
Lindsey Graham: (20:23)
Senator… [crosstalk 00:20:26]