By Bob Gatty
South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, who just over two years ago called Donald Trump “a jackass” and “not fit to be president of the United States,” has since become Trump’s flip-flopping bestie who has no intention of being a “fair juror” during the expected impeachment trial in the Senate.
“This thing will come to the Senate, and it will die quickly, and I will do everything I can to make it die quickly,” the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman said Saturday during an interview with CNN International’s Becky Anderson at the Doha Forum in Qatar.
As Jennifer Rubin wrote in the Washington Post yesterday, “Amidst his boot-licking and willful ignorance of a “quid pro quo,” Graham left little doubt that he had the slightest intention of doing his job as a juror.”
In fact, Rubin said that at the trial, Democrats should ask the presiding judge, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., to disqualify Graham from participating.
“After all,” she wrote, “it is impossible that he could take an oath as required under the Constitution. “I solemnly swear (or affirm) that in all things appertaining to the trial of ____, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God,” is the oath Graham and others must take. He has declared not only his partiality but his determination to ignore all evidence.”
Contrast that with what he said in 1998 when, as a member of the House of Representatives, he made his political bones leading the impeachment of President Clinton following the Monica Lewinsky debacle:
“Members of the Senate have said ‘I understand everything there is about this case and I won’t vote to impeach the president.’ Please allow the facts to do the talking. Don’t decide the case before the case is in.”
Quite a switch there, Senator. On Clinton, it was “Listen to the facts”. On Trump, it’s the facts be damned. “I will do everything in my power to make it die quickly.”
Who was Graham really talking to when he made that statement from far away Qatar? Most likely it was to his Republican base in South Carolina, where the leading contender for the Democratic nomination, Jaime Harrison, is within two points of Graham in the latest statewide poll.
“Don’t worry, Trump supporters, I won’t let them kick out your favorite president, no matter what despicable acts he’s committed.” That, in effect, is what Graham is saying.
In South Carolina, many have been mystified as to the Graham flip-flop on Trump. Speculation as to what “Trump has on Graham” runs rampant on social media.
“We just don’t recognize Senator Graham anymore,” Steve Benjamin, the Democratic mayor of Columbia, told The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart in an interview. “We just don’t recognize him. He was pretty effective and pragmatic until just a few years ago when things started to change pretty dramatically.”
What changed, Benjamin told the journalist, was the 2018 primary challenge by right-winger John Warren to Gov. Henry McMaster, forcing a runoff.
“Benjamin believes that what spooked Graham was Warren saying he was “definitely considering” a run against Graham, the state’s senior senator,” Capehart wrote. However, Warren ruled out a challenge to Graham in September, leaving the door open to challenging McMaster in 2022.
While that threat may be over, Graham apparently has decided to continue his pandering to Trump’s loyal supporters whom he must have if he is to win re-election next November.
Graham constantly says the Trump impeachment initiative is all about politics.
For him, it most certainly is.