Lindsey Graham Press Conference Speech Transcript: Graham Introduces Resolution to Impeachment Process - transcription powered by Happy Scribe

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Once you get over time, I apologize. OK. Here's our chart. People at. Charts over here. OK, 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, is inconsistent with due process. As we know it is 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 and when I can speak very firmly.

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Is the impeachment of President Clinton. So what I want to. Highlight. Here. Well, not this one. Forty nineteen. Congressman Al Green wanted to open up an impeachment inquiry, which is the right way to do it, by the way. One hundred thirty seven Democrats voted with the GOP against impeaching President Trump.

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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.

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So they've created a new process that I think is very dangerous for the country instead of the judiciary looking at a potential impeachable offense. They've created a process in the Intel Community 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. Let's go to 98.

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In 1998. In October, we had an impeachment inquiry vote on the floor of the House, I was there. Thirty one Democrats voted to open up an impeachment inquiry and after. These were the rights given to President Clinton, his team and members of the minority. None of this exists today. What's going on is a run around the impeachment process, creating a secret proceeding behind closed doors that fundamentally is, in my view, denied 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.

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Richard Nixon was allowed to do. And the process in the House today, I think, is danger to the future of the presidency.

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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. 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.

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That's the way to do it. What you're doing today, in my view, is unfair to the president, is dangerous to the presidency. And I think forty one Republican senators and growing is a strong signal to our House colleagues that you're off script here.

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There is a way to do it, a right way and a wrong way. And you've chosen the wrong way. Yes, ma'am.

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Your committee interviewed half a dozen people behind closed doors in your Russia investigation, your son. And then you released the transcripts.

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Yes, I did. I didn't interview any of these witnesses. That was pretty much intel. So did you did. Yeah, that this was I'm saying there's not enough formal. We're looking at the Russian investigation. Mueller testified. So this was all about Mueller. So here's what happened to Ken Starr.

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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 eleven allegations against President Clinton. We pass four articles of impeachment based on the Starr report that was transport transparent subject to cross-examination in public is a public hearing.

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And two of those articles pass the House.

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What Mueller did was investigate the president for two years, spent 25 million dollars and did not recommend any action. That's the difference. It seems like the White House changed course more times at this point. Have you noticed that you guys are on the same page and on the Hill now leading this message?

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So I talked to the chief staff, Mulvaney. I think they're working on getting a messaging team together.

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You know, I was involved in 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 all message every day. The President Clinton defended himself, but he never stopped being president. 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.

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And as he governed during impeachment, I think that was probably the single best thing he did, quite frankly, to avoid that.

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I'm hoping that will become the model here referred to.

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Robert Moses investigation, Starr's investigation. Yes, there is no prosecutor looking into the allegations that combined House committees are looking into it. Now, you were a prosecutor. Would you ever have conducted an investigation when in which your witnesses were allowed to in public and give other witnesses the opportunity?

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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.

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But if you think Adam Schiff is a fact witness, why it and Donald Trump up that witness? The point is that's that's not a process that I think will withstand scrutiny. Durham is looking at potential misconduct about things that happen in 2016, particularly involving the Ukraine is about 2016. This is about what the president has been doing with Ukraine, with his personal lawyer, and the Justice Department has declined to investigate. So so, I mean, there's no prosecutor looking into it.

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And so the House has to do the job. Well, here's what I would say. Are you suggesting there needs to be a special counsel for Ukraine? I think that's. Well, here's what I've 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 good it is to me. Here's the process. Why did I support Mueller? To me, there was a conflict at the Justice Department.

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Why did I introduce legislation that you can only fire Mueller for cars? 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.

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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. So when it comes to whether or not somebody other than the house should look at Ukraine. I will look at all things that are, you see as a secret, an illegitimate process. That's my view. And through what do you say to the argument that forty seven of your Republican House colleagues who serve on these committees, committees, they have the right to be in there?

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It's not secret. It's not.

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I would just say bipartisan. I would say that if we pull this stunt, you'd be eaten us alive. Well, let 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 forty seven Republican House members feel like it's not working for them. They feel like that Volcker's testimony has been selectively released.

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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.

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There's a way to do it. You know, that trumps these rights that every other President Nixon, Clinton ever had.

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And take a vote to allow the House to be on record authorizing this. 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 president.

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Those forty seven don't agree with the case of Richard Nixon.

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In the case of rejects, the House began its impeachment inquiry behind closed doors in October of 1970. Did they have a vote of inquiry that night? They did not have an impeachment resolution until months later in 1974. This. No, it's it's similar to this. 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.

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And Newt knows this better than I do. I think the American people were not with us on substance when it came to Clinton.

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But I do believe that 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. And here's what I this is why Republicans so frustrated. If we had done this to a Democrat, you'd be eaten alive. If we took an opening statement of a witness and said there, doesn't that look bad? You'd wanna know. Well, did anybody question the witness?

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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.

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Can you tell us about your lunch today with the president?

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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 eight or 10 senators. There's a plan coming together from the 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.

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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.

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But a handful of Republicans, I don't know what to tell him.

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Other than I told him every time he said Mueller was a witch hunt, which was like every day I said, I'm not going there because actually no lower.

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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 of being accused of something you didn't do. It just eats away at your soul. And we made it to 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.

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Now, here we are again with the Ukraine. I've told you what I think about the phone call to me is 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, the Ukraine saying, no, there was no quid pro quo. All I'm saying is that you tried an impeachment inquiry vote and you failed.

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And now you're creating a process in the intel committee that I think is star chamber like in in these dance that if this goes, Senator, if you are having to sit in a trial, how does a vote on something like this not totally taint the jury pool?

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Well, if you think impeachment is a non political event, you're wrong. Their 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. 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.

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I consider it to be out of bounds. 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. 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.

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Juries can't get up and say, I want to dismiss the case. So this is one part legal in 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 get most Republicans to comment on the idea that the impeachment proceedings as currently constituted in the House are unfair and dangerous.

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Yes, sir. House Republicans closed the word depositions prior to public hearings during the Clinton impeachment. Yeah. Right. Was it OK then? But you don't like we?

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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.

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But the president participated in a very meaningful way. So what's missing here is the House authorizing this inquiry. Who's missing here is the 47 Republicans you've talked about that are participating. Feel like it's not a fair process. They can't participate in a way that's meaningful.

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Yeah, you try to interfere with the House impeachment process back in the 90s under Clinton. How would you have reacted?

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I think if we were doing this, you would 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.

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With all due respect, I am confident that if we had an Intel Committee inquiry revolving involving a Democratic president where we selectively 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 a wrong way to do it. And this is a dangerous way to do it. You have to follow up.

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I'm sorry. Yeah, well, we'll let you both. OK. Quickly, right now, you're focusing a lot on the Democrats to make clear that they want to release the transcripts of public hearings. So here's what I'm saying.

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What they're doing is selectively leaking 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, I. The point is, you don't know what Bill Taylor was asked. We don't know if he was cross-examined and what what unfolded. So what you have here is a hearing, a process that is to me not sufficient for due process is being used in a politically dangerous fashion.

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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.

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So I just. Thank you, Senator. I just wanted to follow up a little bit more on the lunch and in general, the connection that you've gotten from the White House and from the president himself. What did he say? What did you tell us a little bit more about? Yeah. I can't ask you to do. Is he supportive of this effort to talk about being more aggressive on his behalf? This is right. And then have you heard from him over the last 10 days or the witnesses have been coming out about his frustrate?

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Right. Yeah.

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So 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 is friends.

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He's got to pay legal bills and that he feels like he doesn't have a real fair chance of being president. The United States. He thought it would be over with Mueller. And here's what I would say. I don't know what's going to happen in terms of Ukraine. I've got 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.

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And we need to change course while we can. In the house, of course, what's happening in the house, in my view and the view of at least 41 Republicans is not acceptable.

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Thank you, sir.