Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who once argued that President Bill Clinton should be removed from office for the appearance of encouraging obstruction of justice, said Sunday that he does not care whether President Donald Trump did the same. “I’m done,” he told CBS News.
As a congressman in 1999, Graham served as one of the House Republicans’ impeachment managers prosecuting in the Senate’s trial of Clinton. At the time, he made it clear that the president should be held to a higher standard than just whether or not something is legal. “[President Clinton] doesn’t have to say, ‘Go lie for me,’ to be a crime,” Graham opined in a Meet the Press appearance back then. “You don’t have to say, ‘Let’s obstruct justice’ for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases.”
“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,” Graham told senators during that impeachment trial. “Because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
But on Sunday, Graham argued that even if Trump explicitly told former White House Counsel Don McGahn to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and to lie about it — two things alleged in Mueller’s report and flatly denied by Trump — he frankly does not give a damn.
“I think it’s just all theater. It doesn’t matter,” Graham said of the allegations. “I don’t care what he said to Don McGahn, it’s what he did.”
Pressed about the allegations that the president is “changing a version of events, perhaps some would say lying,” Graham responded that Trump’s actions are not unusual.
“If you’re gonna look at every president who pops off at his staff and asks them to do something that’s maybe crazy, then we wouldn’t have any presidents,” he claimed.
Graham repeated that he didn’t care what happened with McGahn because he did not believe anything Trump did actually impeded Mueller from doing his job. Trump’s numerous roadblocks included refusing to any questions under oath and his offering only partial answers to some of Mueller’s written questions — a level of cooperation that Mueller called “inadequate” in his report.
Asked whether he, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, planned to invite McGahn to testify, Graham said he would not. “I’m done,” he said. “It’s over for me.”