Jan 24, 2020
Lindsey Graham Impeachment Press Conference Transcript: Graham Speaks to Reporters Before Impeachment Trial Friday
Senator Lindsey Graham spoke to the media on Friday, January 24 before the continuation of the Donald Trump Impeachment Trial in the Senate. Read the full transcript of his speech and statements.
Lindsey Graham: (00:00)
… as I said on the first day, I thought they did a good job taking evidentiary points and weaving the narrative and we’ll see if that narrative withstand scrutiny. Yesterday was a bit different. I don’t know about you, but it became mind numbing after a while. I got the general point you’re trying to make the fourth time you told me. So they’re over trying the case and I would just urge them to not do that because of eventually it gets just hard to follow. But yesterday was substantively important and in my view, Manager Garcia who seems to be a very talented woman, I thought her rendition of, There’s No There There with Joe Biden was misleading.
Lindsey Graham: (00:50)
Let me just tell you, she mentioned 17 witnesses and none of them thinks Hunter Biden did anything wrong? I bet you none of them looked. From a foreign policy point of view, as much as I like Joe Biden and I do respect him and I do admire him, I’ve traveled the world with him, I think it’s bad foreign policy if you’re going to be in charge of dealing with corruption in Ukraine, that your son hook up with the most corrupt company in Ukraine and turn the Ukraine into an ATM machine. You worry about the Russians compromising us because of Burisma, when you put your family member in that situation, it’s not good folks. That’s not good foreign policy and the Vice President said he didn’t know anything about it, that questions whether or not how hard he was looking.
Lindsey Graham: (01:40)
Now John Kerry’s stepson was receiving money from companies in the Ukraine. I guarantee you none of these 17 foreign policy experts, I bet you they haven’t spent five minutes looking at this and if they have, I want the report. She told us in no uncertain terms, this has been debunked. It’s baseless, it’s phony. Well, I can tell you and you can go read it for yourself, what the Trump family did in Russia and everything about Trump’s campaign from the Mueller Report, what they’re trying to do is convince the public and people like us just forget about this. I think this is a legitimate inquiry. I think it is bad foreign policy to allow what happened to happen and they may be no criminal liability, it may be just conflicts of interest that are inappropriate, I don’t know I want somebody to look. I made sure that Mueller could look at the Trumps, my democratic friends seem to have no interest in looking at something that screams [Durik 00:00:02:46].
Lindsey Graham: (02:49)
Now if you don’t know one of your family members is getting $87,000 a month from the most corrupt gas company in the Ukraine and it’s your job to deal with corruption in the Ukraine, you’re not looking very hard. Somebody needs to look, not to help Trump, but to help us all because that is not good foreign policy. It is not good government and I don’t accept the idea of this has been looked at and There’s No There There. Somebody needs to look at it and I would prefer it to be outside of politics, but somebody will eventually look at it.
Lindsey Graham: (03:29)
As to the voices you heard. All of them are government service professionals. I respect their service to our country, all the people that were called as witnesses, but what they don’t get is Trump. All of us know the guy and when they tell us that we’ve betrayed the Ukraine because we froze the aid for a certain amount of days, future aid, and that Donald Trump basically betrayed the Ukraine and put all the Ukrainian soldiers at risk, I don’t buy that because I’ve been there. I’ve seen the difference of the Trump administration versus the last administration and they said this was vitally important, it’s 10% of the Ukrainian military budget. What they don’t get that Donald Trump doesn’t like the fact that the United States is not only having to increase spending now, but we’re taking 10% of the Ukrainian budget and giving it to the American taxpayer. They don’t get that President Trump would like France and Germany and other people to do more.
Lindsey Graham: (04:44)
They have fought foreign policy differences with this president. They don’t get where he’s coming from. I find myself on the other side, siding with them a lot against the President, but I do respect the fact that he believes that somebody should not accept it’s a status quo that we’re going to give the Ukrainian military 10% of their budget in perpetuity. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand Trump’s motives. Now as to betraying the Ukraine, I’ve got a different view of that hopefully other people will talk about it. So the bottom line here is that when it came to President Trump’s insistence that somebody look at what happened with Bidens in the Ukraine, I think he’s right. I think somebody should. Not a partisan politician because if you spend any time looking at the public record, this is not right and I say this about a good friend.
Lindsey Graham: (05:42)
If you changed the name to Pence or Trump or Barrasso or Graham, there’d be a completely different attitude by my friends on the other side. I can only imagine if a Republican vice-president given the charge to clean up the Ukraine, this happened. There would be investigation upon investigation and they would deserve the scrutiny. So what’s going to happen here is we’re going to set among ourselves when this is over and ask the question and give our own view: Did President Trump corruptly ask for the Biden’s to be looked at, I’m going to look at them, are you going to impeach me? Because somebody should. I prefer it not to be me, I’d prefer it to be somebody like Mueller that we could all trust because it’s important to never let this happen again. This is not good foreign policy. This is not good government.
Lindsey Graham: (06:40)
So look forward to hearing what they have to say today and I’ll end on this. Chip has done a good job, I think I’ve said that, but his closing summary was different. He told me that I have to get rid of this president now because I can’t trust him to do what’s best for the country because he’ll only do what’s best for Donald Trump. That decision needs to be made by the voters and here’s how I’m going to make that decision, I trust Donald Trump to do what’s best for the country. We’ll have a chance to talk about what he’s done for you and your family and the idea the politician says he can’t serve anymore because he’s been so self centered, I find that to ring hollowly and as to the Mr. Schiff’s discussion about why we need to remove the president, I think you saw in there some animosity toward this president that needs to be resolved at the ballot box, not in the court of impeachment.
John Barrasso: (07:49)
Before getting to the issue of the trial, which we’re engaged in, in the Senate right now, let me just as a doctor take a couple of seconds to talk about the Wuhan virus and the concerns that have spread around the country as there have been two documented cases now in the United States. We’ve just had a bipartisan briefing from the National Institute of Health and from experts in this policy area; what we know is that they’ve shut down the airport and restricted the area where the virus was first identified and as a doctor what you want to do is identify, diagnose, contain and prevent additional spread. You want to do that by limiting the number of people that are coming to the United States who may be at risk of bringing that disease and in a number of airports they’re doing checks on that because one of the first symptoms is fever.
John Barrasso: (08:36)
What we know of the people that are here already that had been diagnosed is that they have been to that region and it sounds like the incubation time could be up to 14 days. So in terms of what we would do since they are the symptoms of the flu and there’s a lot of flu going around, this is a virus that is a respiratory transmitted virus; coughing and sneezing are ways that it’s transmitted. Certainly cover yourself if you’re doing any of those things.
John Barrasso: (09:05)
Additionally wash your hands. If you’re sick, stay home. If your kids are sick, don’t send them to school because we certainly don’t want transmission from person to person to person. This is an evolving disease and virus similar to the SARS virus that we’ve had previously and I just asked people to take the appropriate precautions. Now with regard to the impeachment and Adam Schiff’s closing argument last night about President Trump not doing what’s best for the American people, only doing what’s best for him, since he’s come to office we have seven million new jobs in America. Yesterday the new numbers came out on consumer confidence, the highest they’ve been in this country in 20 years. The amount of wages have gone up, better jobs, better opportunities, the country is much better and I would say let the voters decide.
John Barrasso: (09:55)
What we’ve heard from Adam Schiff is he doesn’t trust the voters. He didn’t trust him in 2016 and doesn’t trust him in 2020, which is why he doesn’t want to just eliminate and remove President Trump from office, he also wants to remove him from the ballot in 2020. You’re going to ask four Democrat senators who are still running for president to vote on that? To me, that is a conflict of interest on their parts. With regard to the trial and Lindsey talked about what we have heard so far, Lindsey was one of the managers back in the Clinton impeachment trial. They were given 24 hours, they used fewer hours than the Democrats have used up until today. Now they’re going to go with another full day of arguments about this, it seems to me their case is weaker today than it was yesterday. That there’s so little brought out that every hour and a half bring out the same thing.
John Barrasso: (10:54)
They rushed it through the House and now they say, “We want witnesses,” because we didn’t have time in the House. After the President’s defense gets to present their case tomorrow and then Monday and Tuesday, we’re going to have 16 hours for questioning and then we’re going to have a vote in the Senate. Do we need more information or have we heard enough so we can go to final judgment? We have heard plenty. The managers for the Democrats have said there’s overwhelming evidence, there’s a mountain of evidence. They said it’s rock solid evidence, they shouldn’t need any more information to make a final decision. Now we’re happy to take your questions.
Senator Graham, sir.
Lindsey Graham: (11:37)
You’ll be next.
Sir, regarding foreign policy interests you spoke of earlier, what legitimate foreign policy interests could be served by having the President of Ukraine go on CNN and announce an investigation into one of the president’s political rivals without any [inaudible 00:12:05] conduct that investigation? What’s the legitimate [crosstalk 00:12:09] for the announcement, sir?
Lindsey Graham: (12:10)
Here’s what I think. Here’s what I don’t buy. If you’re former vice president and you were in charge of the Ukraine, nobody can ask you about what you did because you’re running for president in 2020. What Trump is frustrated with, including me, is that nobody in your business has spent 15 minutes telling us about what a Hunter Biden did and is it good foreign policy? He’s frustrated because he believes there’s a double standard.
Lindsey Graham: (12:39)
Here’s what I think is good foreign policy: For him today to keep insisting that we know what the vice president, his son did in the Ukraine. Did he do it? Did Hunter Biden do it in such way so that he’s compromised? So I just don’t buy the idea that it’s wrong for the President to insist that the Ukrainians cooperate with us on an investigation. I would say this: Three democratic senators, Leahy, Menendez and Durbin wrote a letter to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General saying that if you don’t cooperate with the Mueller Investigation, if you do not assist Mueller to find out what Trump may have done regarding the 2016 election, then we-
Respectfully Senator, I just want to confirm what you’re saying. You’re saying that it is okay for the President to ask a president of a foreign country to make an announcement about investigating an American running against him because he thinks the media is unfair?
Lindsey Graham: (13:39)
I think the President believes that there’s a double standard. I think the President believes that he went through holy hell and, and I believe the same thing.
[crosstalk 00:13:51] balance it out?
Lindsey Graham: (13:52)
What he wants to do is get to the truth. Can you imagine if a Republican had done this? You need to ask yourselves this question. As the media, as an institution, would you not have people on the ground wanting to know what Mike Pence’s son did when he contacted the State Department the day they raided the Burisma’s president’s home. The President is frustrated and I am frustrated that we live in a country where only one side gets looked at and I am telling you now that I am going to look at this if nobody else does and that doesn’t make me a Russian agent.
Senator. You talked about the House managers over trying the case. How much or how little do you think the President’s lawyers need to do to make sure he gets acquitted?
Lindsey Graham: (14:41)
About the fourth time you told me the same thing is twice too much. Here’s what the President’s lawyers, I think should be doing if I were them. I would go to the argument very quickly: Did Donald Trump betray the United States’ interests by withholding pay for a period of time? Did he have a corrupt motive when he says, “Somebody should look at the Bidens and what they did in the Ukraine today.” He’s not asking for the Ukrainians to investigate all of his political opponents. He’s asking somebody to look at the former vice president who has chosen to run for president, who allowed his son to be a member of the most corrupt company in the Ukraine receive $3 million and expect nobody to ask questions about that. That’s what he’s asking for. I think that’s bad foreign policy. I think if a Republican had done this, there would be no debate anywhere in the country that somebody should look at how did this happen and if you didn’t know your son was doing this, how seriously were you looking at corruption?
Senator [crosstalk 00:15:58] White House attorneys should make the Bidens history in Ukraine part of their defense of the President?
Lindsey Graham: (16:03)
Here’s what I think. I think they should tear apart the narrative presented by the House managers. This has been debunked. I think they should make a compelling case based on the public record. There is something based on good government and good foreign policy to look at here and urge us when this is over to look at it.
Lindsey Graham: (16:25)
Yes Senator, just moments ago Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “You don’t get to bury your head in the sand and then complain it’s dark.” She is calling you all hypocritical for complaining about repetitive, you said, “Mind numbing,” nature of the Democrats’ testimony so far and yet at the same time voting against visual witnesses and documents. Your response [crosstalk 00:16:53].
Lindsey Graham: (16:48)
Very quickly, I like her a lot. I think they did a good job laying out their case. I just thought yesterday was too much. I’ve seen the same video seven times. Here’s what I would say to her, “You know what’s mind numbing? The manager said there’s not one piece of evidence to suggest that Hunter Biden did anything wrong in this record,” and there never will be if you don’t call any witnesses. They tried to call Hunter Biden and people associated with Burisma in the House and they were shut out.
Lindsey Graham: (17:19)
I was pretty offended by the idea that there’s a record here and there’s not one [inaudible 00:17:24] of evidence that Hunter Biden didn’t wrong when you stop the House from calling Hunter Biden. So that’s having your head in the sand, but here’s the thing, I don’t want to call Hunter Biden. I don’t want to call Joe Biden. I want somebody to look at that when this is done. I think I’ve got enough from the public record to believe that their assertion There’s No There There, falls short. I think I know enough about the Ukraine to believe that we didn’t betray the country. I think I know enough about the President’s worldview. He’s still pissed that we give them 10% of their military budget.
John Barrasso: (17:58)
This isn’t only about the presidential race. This is about the United States Senate. If you take a listen to Chuck Schumer statements, putting the trial, putting it on the members of the United States Senate, this is about Susan Collins, this is about Thom Tillis, this is about Martha McSally, this is about Cory Gardner, Chuck Schumer has said as much. Only part of it is about removing President Trump and taking his name off in the ballot. It is also about Chuck Schumer trying to make himself a majority leader of the United States Senate and there’s no way to deny it because he himself has confirmed it.
[crosstalk 00:18:37] trying to make is that there should be more witnesses and documents because new evidence has come out. Today there was a recording allegedly showing that President Trump was in favor of taking out the US ambassador in the Ukraine, Ms. Yovanovitch. Can you respond to the idea that in a trial there has to be evidence and witnesses and documents as they come to look and to have a fair trial?
John Barrasso: (19:08)
There will be new evidence every day. There will be something new that comes out every day and the House has said, “We’re going to continue to investigate these things.” House members have said, “We may bring additional articles of impeachment.” There’s nothing to stop the house from continuing along that line, but when the House managers say the evidence is overwhelming, it’s a rock solid case and a mountain of evidence. When they say all of those three things, I don’t believe that there are any Democrats who need additional information to make a decision on how they’re going to vote and I can’t imagine there are many Republicans in the same situation.
[crosstalk 00:19:45] innocent. If he is innocent, why not bring those documents and witnesses?
Lindsey Graham: (19:51)
Number one: The president can fire any ambassador they want. I’ll give you a lot of examples of where ambassadors that have been removed because they lost the confidence of the president. But here’s what I say about witnesses: I can’t answer the phone anymore about [inaudible 00:20:09] call Hunter Biden. They refuse to call him in the House.
Lindsey Graham: (20:15)
Back to your question, I don’t think it is wrong for us to look at the Biden connection to the Ukraine, the $3 million taken and given to the Vice Presidents’ son by the most corrupt company in the Ukraine. So the bottom line here is if there are new witnesses to be called, you would have to start with the ones who will refuse to be called to start with. How do you try this case, quite frankly, if you want more information and not have Hunter Biden come in and not ask Joe Biden, Mr. Vice President, how could you not know that your son was receiving $3 million from the most corrupt gas company in the Ukraine and do you think that is good government and good foreign policy?
Lindsey Graham: (20:57)
The reason I’m saying no to them, to people on my side is because this needs to end. They’ve had an opportunity to make their case and I’ll be judged by my verdict by the people of South Carolina, I’ll answer your questions, how I vote the way I do, but I think I don’t want to call John Bolton because they could have chosen to call him and they refuse to. I’m not going to destroy executive privilege. I’m not going to let the House put me in this box of ignoring witnesses and asking me to call them and deny the President his day in court. I want executive privilege and to my Republican friends, you may be upset about what happened in the Ukraine with the Bidens, but this is not the venue to litigate them.
Speaker 1: (21:38)
We’ll see you in a couple of days. We’re going to do it every other day.
Senator, will you be here Saturday?
Speaker 1: (21:51)
Not until Monday. We’re going to be here tomorrow. We just don’t know what time. We’re guessing maybe the morning.
So the defense will start tomorrow?
Speaker 1: (21:59)
That’s the information I got, we’ll find out more here at [inaudible 00:22:04].