Lindsey Graham's own words haunt him at Trump impeachment trial

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Graham argued during Bill Clinton's trial that a president doesn't need to commit a crime in order to be impeached.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's words came back to bite him on Thursday, when House Democratic impeachment managers used Graham's own words to make the case for Donald Trump's impeachment.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and one of the seven Democrats making the case for Trump's impeachment, played a video of Graham explaining that a president need not commit crimes in order to be impeached.

Graham made the comments during the impeachment trial against former President Bill Clinton, who was accused of lying under oath and obstructing justice.

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"What's a high crime? How 'bout if an important person hurt somebody of low means? It's not very scholarly, but I think it's the truth," Graham said during that trial, for which he served as an impeachment manager making the case for Clinton's removal from office.

I think that's what they meant by high crimes; doesn't even have to be a crime. It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people, you've committed a high crime."

Trump and his defenders, including Graham, now say that Trump cannot be removed from office because they claim abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not crimes.

"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,” Graham said in October.

Graham, for his part, was not in the Senate chamber when Nadler played the hypocritical comment.

MSNBC's Garrett Haake said Graham was in fact the only senator who was not in the room when the clip played, adding that he may have known the clip was coming and "didn't want to be in the room" at the time.​

Reporters witnessed Graham leaving the chamber moments before Nadler rolled the old clip  — a violation of Senate rules that require senators to remain at their desks while arguments are taking place.

This article has been corrected to note that Graham made his previous "quid pro quo" comments in October last year.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.