Within hours of acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s public testimony Wednesday, during which he dropped an explosive new claim about a previously unknown conversation that President Trump had with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) declared that he’s still on a crusade to expose the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry.
After Fox News host Sean Hannity brought up his concerns with Graham about Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during his show Wednesday night, he asked Trump’s surefire Senate ally if a trial is happening in the first place.
Earlier Wednesday, Cornyn aired his doubts on whether there are enough votes in the Senate to quickly dismiss any articles of impeachment against Trump while McConnell suggested that the Senate doesn’t plan to cut short an impeachment trial because “the rules of impeachment are very clear.”
Graham responded to Hannity by saying that he “promises the country” that “we are not going to try the President of the United States based on hearsay.” During and after the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday, House Intelligence Republicans mocked how the Democrats’ “two star witnesses” did not speak directly to Trump about his Ukraine pressure campaign.
“Any resolution setting up a trial in the Senate, I’m going to make sure that hearsay cannot be the basis of an impeachment allegation,” Graham said. “If you invoke the hearsay rule, what would be left?”
When Hannity pointed out that Graham said the Senate trial was “DOA without the whistleblower, without due process,” the South Carolina Republican proceeded to defend the President.
“A trial in the Senate to me should not legitimize what is going on in the House,” Graham said. “What they are doing in the House is a danger to the presidency itself. So any trial in the Senate needs to make sure that you can’t impeach a president based on hearsay because that is a danger to the presidency itself.”
Graham then argued that “the Senate must expose the whistleblower so the President can confront his accuser” and that he “will not accept a trial in the Senate” until he knows who the whistleblower is.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Trump privately discussed with aides whether to fire Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson for reporting the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress, which addressed the President’s now-infamous July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Last week, Republicans formally requested a public testimony from the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower’s lawyer Andrew Bakaj sent the White House a cease and desist letter as a result of the onslaught of Trump and other Republicans demanding the identity of the whistleblower, warning that the President’s demand puts his client in “physical danger.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) broke from both Trump and Graham in exposing the whistleblower’s identity.
On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that some Republicans are mulling delaying and extending the impeachment trial in the Senate to force Democratic senators in the 2020 presidential race to stay in Washington and away from early primary states.
Watch Graham’s remarks below:
Graham: "I will not accept a trial in the Senate until I know who the whistleblower is." pic.twitter.com/VGfSxuiV7c
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) November 14, 2019