Lindsey Graham vows to block impeachment trial until whistleblower is outed

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Testimony from multiple officials has largely corroborated the whistleblower's complaint.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who once served as a prosecutor in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, said Thursday he will attempt to block the Senate from holding its required impeachment trial unless the whistleblower whose complaint kickstarted the process decides to come forward.

Under its own rules, if the House of Representatives impeaches a president, the Senate is required to hold a trial.

But Graham, who said earlier this week that he had already made up his mind about Donald Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate political rivals, is refusing to cooperate.

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"I will not allow a trial in the Senate to go forward with my vote unless the whistleblower comes forward," he told reporters on Thursday. "Even though they're offering hearsay, they're the ones that started this. And I want to know: is there a connection between the whistleblower, the CIA, Biden, or any other Democrat that would ... cast suspicions over their motives?"

He added, "I want to get to the bottom of this. We're not gonna let the president of the United States be tried based on an anonymous accusation."

Virtually every item in the whistleblower's complaint has been independently corroborated. Trump himself released a partial transcript of a July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that backs up much of what the whistleblower claimed — that Trump asked Zelensky to do him a "favor" and investigate his 2020 political rival Joe Biden, as well as a debunked conspiracy about the Democratic National Committee.

It is illegal to solicit or accept election help from a foreign national, according to the Federal Election Commission and Justice Department.

The House of Representatives has heard testimony over the past several weeks from numerous administration officials who have confirmed that Trump also withheld security aid from Ukraine to pressure officials there to carry out the investigations.

Republicans claim Trump did nothing wrong because Ukraine eventually received the aid, though as Democrats note, it wasn't until Congress had been alerted to the whistleblower's memo that the funds were released. A report from Just Security also claims the Defense Department was forced to scramble together legislation in coordination with Congress to extend the deadline to release those funds, to avoid them being returned to the Treasury.

Graham's refusal is the latest move by Republicans to try and out the anonymous whistleblower, who has already received several death threats.

Conservatives activists have named someone they claim to be the whistleblower repeatedly, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) has said he might do the same.

Graham praised those comments, saying it would be "very responsible" to reveal the whistleblower's identity. Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has also come under fire for retweeting a post with the alleged whistleblower's name in it — a move he defended as acceptable because claimed he was a "private citizen."

During Clinton's impeachment trial, then-Rep. Graham strongly advocated for Clinton's removal.

"You don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role," he argued at the time. "Because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office."

Back in 2001, Graham also voted for the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation (NO FEAR) Act to protect federal whistleblowers from retaliation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.