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Lindsey Graham changes his mind about 'disturbing' evidence in Trump trial

Graham says he opposes hearing witness testimony despite glaring new allegations of a quid pro quo.

By Josh Israel - January 29, 2020
Lindsey Graham
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Wednesday that he would oppose hearing testimony from fact witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial despite glaring new evidence of a quid pro quo with Ukraine — a notable shift in sentiment from his comments on the matter last October.

His comments come amid rising scrutiny over new allegations outlined in former nation security adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened.” In that book, Bolton claims Trump informed him he wanted to continue withholding critical aid to Ukraine until the country announced investigations into Trump’s political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter — a clear quid pro quo, which Trump has long denied.

“For the sake of argument,” Graham said in a statement Wednesday, “one could assume everything attributable to John Bolton is accurate and still the House case would fall well below the standards to remove a president from office.”

Graham claimed that Trump was justified in demanding investigations into the Bidens, as “there is ample evidence for the President to be concerned about conflicts of interest on behalf of Hunter Biden and that Vice President Joe Biden’s failure to take appropriate action was unacceptable.”

That statement contradicts Graham’s past comments on the issue.

The South Carolina Republican — who once called Trump a “jackass” — has become one of Trump’s most vocal defenders over the past few years. But in October he was asked by Axios whether anything could make him change his mind and back Trump’s removal from office.

“Sure,” he told the outlet. “I mean …show me something that … is a crime. If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

Trump has maintained his demand that Ukraine investigate Biden was above board and that he did nothing improper, repeatedly stating that there was “no quid pro quo” and telling Americans to “read the transcript” of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy from July last year. During that call, Trump asked Zelenskiy for a favor, to investigate Biden, before the two discussed a potential White House meeting, which to date has not happened.

Multiple officials have since testified under oath that the quid pro quo arrangement existed and that the coveted White House meeting and aid both hinged on Ukraine’s willingness to open the investigations Trump requested.

Graham’s repeated flip-flops have haunted him throughout the Trump impeachment saga.

During Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999, then-Rep. Graham served as a House impeachment manager and took positions counter to his views today.

At that time, he argued that not having witnesses at Clinton’s trial would set a terrible precedent. “The whole point that we’re trying to make is that in every trial that there’s ever been in the Senate, regarding impeachment, witnesses were called,” he said.

“There may be some conflict that has to be resolved by presenting live witnesses,” Graham explained back then. “That’s what happens every day in court and I think the Senate can stand that.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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