Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is introducing a resolution critical of the House impeachment process against President Donald Trump that calls on the House to hold a vote to initiate a formal inquiry.
The resolution, co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, argues that the House is “denying President Trump basic fairness and due process accorded every American.”
“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,” Graham said during a Thursday press conference, arguing that it is “a substantial deviation from what the House has done in the past regarding impeachment of other presidents.”
As House Democrats investigate the President’s contacts with Ukraine, congressional Republicans have turned their focus to attacking the process underway in conducting the inquiry.
In a statement in support of the resolution, McConnell said that the inquiry “is breaking critical precedents, denying the administration important rights that were afforded other presidents, and violating basic rules of due process.”
Congressional Republicans have escalated their attacks on the process as the President has called for a stronger defense.
On Wednesday, group of House Republicans stormed a closed-door deposition in secure House Intelligence Committee spaces to argue that the process taking place is not transparent.
The effort to storm the room came two days after Trump said that he thought Republicans “have to get tougher and fight.” Many of the Republicans engaged in the protest were at a White House meeting with Trump on Tuesday, and a person familiar with the matter told CNN that Trump had advance knowledge of the plans to enter the space.
Graham argued during his press conference that “instead of the Judiciary looking at a potential impeachable offense, they’ve created a process with 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 an unworthy substitute for the way you need to do it.”
Democrats say that Republican complaints about the process are unwarranted. Republicans on the three committees — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight — have equal time to question witnesses.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has said that the committee will release transcripts and hold public hearings, but said they are conducting the fact-finding part of the investigation, like a grand jury before a trial, that’s done behind closed doors.
And House Speaker Pelosi has dismissed calls for an impeachment vote from Trump and congressional Republicans as nothing more than a “Republican talking point.”
Graham has emerged as one of the most adamant defenders of the President on Capitol Hill amid the Ukraine controversy and the impeachment inquiry.
In the wake of charges from a whistleblower that the President tried to strong-arm the Ukrainian President to dig up dirt on former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Graham has gone on the offensive, repeatedly defending Trump’s actions. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
“This seems to me like a political setup. It’s all hearsay,” Graham told CBS’ “Face the Nation” at the end of last month. “You can’t get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay. The whistleblower didn’t hear the phone call. Who told the whistleblower about the phone call and everything else? Donald Trump is still an American. Every American deserves to confront their accuser. So this is a sham as far as I’m concerned.”
Graham discussed the President’s state of mind on Thursday, saying, “He would like the process to be exposed for being basically unfair. He keeps telling us he did nothing wrong.”
Graham argued “the phone call was OK with me,” referring to a publicly-released transcript of a call between Trump and the Ukrainian President.
But the senator added, “I don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of Ukraine … 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.”