Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., predicted Wednesday that Republicans would be “very united” against convicting former President Donald Trump of incitement of insurrection in his second impeachment trial, which begins next week.
“I think the Republican Party is going to be very united around the idea that impeaching a president who lives in Florida, who’s out of office, is unconstitutional,” Graham told “America Reports.”
Graham also took exception to Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., presiding over Trump’s trial in lieu of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
“Nobody, I think, ever envisioned a post-presidential impeachment. It will open up Pandora’s Box for the presidency,” he said. “I think they’ll be close to 47 or 48 votes for the idea that this is an unconstitutional excercise, but not enough to stop the case.”
Trump was impeached last month following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when a mob of his supporters stormed the building to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Trump had spoken earlier to supporters, urging them to “fight like hell”, and pressed Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors he viewed as fraudulent, saying Trump would “very disappointed” if he did not.
“If being disappointed in someone is a crime, we’re all in trouble,” Graham said, adding that claims that Pence could have unilaterally changed the outcome of Electoral College was “absurd.”
Referencing Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 election after he disputed Florida, Graham quipped, “If that were true, Al Gore missed a great opportunity. Don’t tell him that. He’ll be pissed.”
Trump’s acquittal seems a virtual certainty after 45 of 50 Republicans voted against holding the trial on the grounds it was unconstitutional. Democrats would need at least 17 Republicans to vote to convict in order to bar Trump from holding office again.
Trump is the first president to be impeached twice and will be the first former president to ever be put on trial.
In addition to saying the trial should not be held, the former president’s lawyers have argued he is protected by the First Amendment and did not incite violence. Democratic impeachment managers have said Trump is “singularly responsible” for the Capitol violence and must be held to account for his conduct, even after he left office.
One of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump was House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who has drawn ire from her caucus and prompted calls to oust her from leadership. Graham praised Cheney as an “invaluable member” of the party and a “role model” for conservative women, although he disagreed with her vote.
Graham also addressed the controversy around freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., whom Democrats want to remove from two House committees for past inflammatory remarks and promoting conspiracy theories like QAnon, 9/11 trutherism and the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre being a false flag. She has also been criticized by Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“I want to know, does she still believe that Sandy Hook was faked, that 9/11 was an inside job, that there’s a Jewish laser in the sky starting fires in California,” he said. “I don’t know … I know how you can be taken out of context, but rather than me talking about her, I would like her to be definitive.”
Graham said Greene needed to explain what she believed now about her past comments, and if she stayed silent, it would appear “damning.”
“If she believes that Sandy Hook was faked, then that would be incredibly disturbing, because it wasn’t,” he said.