Lindsey Graham slams Mitch McConnell for backing Donald Trump impeachment, says it 'could invite further violence'
The Senate majority leader though has ruled out the impeachment trial in upper chamber till Trump's term ends, he is reportedly happy with the Dems' move
President Donald Trump became the only incumbent in history to get impeached twice as the House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 13, voted 232-197 to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection”. The impeachment came exactly a week after the violence at Capitol Hill that was carried out by Trump’s supporters who challenged the results of the 2020 presidential election and a week before his tenure formally concluded. Ten Republicans also joined the Democratic majority impeaching the president, who faced a similar experience in December 2019 on charges of misuse of office and obstructing the Congress over his dealings with Ukraine about President-elect Joe Biden.
The process now moves to the Senate which had acquitted Trump the last time he was impeached by the House, thanks to its GOP majority. But this time, the party looks less united over backing the president who is nearing his end at the White House. Lindsey Graham, the chair of the upper chamber’s judiciary committee, on Wednesday indirectly slammed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders as the House debated the impeachment of Trump for the second time.
Graham against impeachment of president nearing end of term
In a lengthy statement, Graham, who traveled to Texas with the president to visit a new section of the border wall a day before, said: “The last thing the country needs is an impeachment trial of a president who is leaving office in one week.” Graham, who has been a staunch ally to Trump but spoke out critically in the wake of the Capitol Hill ruckus and was yelled at by the president’s supporters at the Reagan National Airport last week, cautioned that another impeachment trial “could invite further violence” and targeted the Democrats for trying to do a “do-over impeachment”.
“The House impeachment process seeks to legitimize a snap impeachment totally void of due process. No hearings. No witnesses. It is a rushed process that, over time, will become a threat to future presidents. As to Senate leadership, I fear they are making the problem worse, not better,” the 65-year-old South Carolina senator said, taking an indirect dig at McConnell.
“Supporting the impeachment of President Trump under these circumstances will do great damage to the institutions of government and could invite further violence at a time the President is calling for calm. If there was a time for America's political leaders to bend a knee and ask for God's counsel and guidance, it is now. The most important thing for leaders to do in times of crisis is to make things better, not worse,” Graham, who refused to find himself on the same page with Trump after the January 6 riot, added. He was also against dragging on with the plan to challenge the results of the 2020 election.
I support peaceful protests but not violence and destruction. People need to leave the Capitol now!— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 6, 2021
This is a national embarrassment.
Trump calls for peace ahead of inauguration
On Wednesday, the White House released a statement from Trump calling for calm. “In light of reports of more demonstrations, I urge that there must be NO violence, NO lawbreaking and NO vandalism of any kind. That is not what I stand for, and it is not what America stands for. I call on ALL Americans to help ease tensions and calm tempers,” he said.
Graham, who refused to contest the Electoral College votes that confirmed Biden as the president-elect the same day the violence took place, however, took on his party colleagues who voted for the impeachment. He said they were doing great damage to the country, presidency and the party.
McConnell's calculated moves
Graham targeted Senate colleague McConnell even though the latter ruled out a trial of Trump in the chamber before his term ends. “Given the rules, procedures, and Senate precedents that govern presidential impeachment trials, there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week. The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively,” McConnell said in a statement after the House vote.
“Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact. The President-elect himself stated last week that his inauguration on January 20 is the 'quickest' path for any change in the occupant of the presidency,” he added.
McConnell was of the opinion that the Trump issue can be taken over once the transfer of power happens in an orderly manner. “In light of this reality, I believe it will best serve our nation if Congress and the executive branch spend the next seven days completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power to the incoming Biden Administration,” the Kentucky senator added.
This means the initial days of the Biden presidency will be spent behind impeaching Trump and if he is impeached by the Senate, his chances of contesting the 2024 presidential election will be shattered.
McConnell happy with Dems impeaching Trump: Report
McConnell, who recently disagreed with Trump’s proposal to raise the Covid-19 relief paycheck amount from $600 to $2,000, feels Trump committed impeachable offenses and that the Democrats’ move to impeach him will make it easier to purge the mercurial leader from the party, a New York Times report said.
Axios on Tuesday, January 12, reported citing courses that there is more than a 50-50 chance that McConnell would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial. “The Senate institutional loyalists are fomenting a counterrevolution” to Trump, the report cited a top Republican close to McConnell as saying. If it indeed takes shape, it will be one of the most shocking instances in the history of American politics.
To impeach Trump, two-thirds majority in the Senate is required.
McConnell, who played a major role in stopping the impeachment of Trump last time, is reportedly livid with the incumbent this time. He is not only disappointed with the president over the Capitol Hill violence that came very close to putting the lawmakers’ lives in danger but also over his role ahead of the crucial Senate election runoffs in Georgia on January 5. The GOP lost both the seats to lose their control of the chamber since with a 50-50 split now, the Dems get the upper hand since their Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote. McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao quit the Trump Cabinet after the riot as the transportation secretary, along with many others who stepped down from the administration.