This week, opening arguments in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial are set to begin. Senate Republicans have long advocated for a swift dismissal of the impeachment case, but this Sunday morning on Fox, prominent Trump ally and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) admitted that the chamber will at least be going through the motions of the opening arguments and evidence presentations, even though he’s been rambling for awhile about the supposed need to end the case as quickly as possible. As of now, the trial seems likely to last at least through Trump’s State of the Union address scheduled for early February.
In the meantime, host Chris Wallace asked Graham if he’d “given up on the idea that the majority will vote to dismiss case right away,” and he admitted that yes, he had. Poor Lindsey! That means he’s actually going to have to sit through the presentation of all the evidence implicating the president who he’s given up his political dignity for.
Referencing the option of voting right away to dismiss the case outright, Graham said:
‘That’s dead for practical purposes. There are a lot of senators who I think will wind up acquitting the president, but I believe we need to hear the House’s case and the president’s case in answer to the House’s case. The idea of dismissing the case early on is not going to happen. We don’t have the votes for that.’
Allowing the impeachment trial to proceed without completely throwing it out is an extremely low bar — to put it mildly — but Senate Republicans have passed it anyway.
A major remaining question is whether or not the Democratic minority in the Senate will be able to secure witness testimony for the trial. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) himself has insisted that calling witnesses would turn the trial into a “fishing expedition,” but Democrats want to summon individuals with firsthand knowledge of the president’s plot to bribe Ukraine into investigating his domestic opponents.
Although fellow Trump ally Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has indicated plans to demand votes on witnesses that Republicans want in response to Democratic demands, Graham now claims that he will not vote in favor of any witnesses at all.
He told Chris Wallace:
‘If we call one witness, we’re going to call all the witnesses. There’s not going to be a process where the Democrats get their witnesses and the president gets shut out. I want this trial to get over as quick as possible. I want the people of the United States to pick the next president.’
Americans also want to pick their next president — the problem is that Trump is trying to interfere in that process with his repeated reliance on foreign meddling. In other words, Graham’s melodramatic nod to fairness or whatever rings incredibly hollow. If he was truly concerned about protecting the interests of the American people, he’d at least attempt to hear out the case with very serious allegations against the current president of abuse of power. But he’s not doing that. He’d rather remain golfing buddies with Trump, apparently.