Lindsey Graham urges Biden to get Democrats to end impeachment

Lindsey Graham walks away after speaking to reporter on 7 January about Capitol violence. (AP)
Lindsey Graham walks away after speaking to reporter on 7 January about Capitol violence. (AP)

One of President Trump’s closest confidants is asking President-elect Joe Biden to pressure Congressional Democrats to end the impeachment proceedings. In a string of tweets, Senator Lindsey Graham called on Mr Biden to “to rise to the occasion and instruct his party to call off post-presidential impeachment proceedings”.

Mr Biden has so far been doing his best to avoid giving his opinion publicly regarding impeachment, only indicating that he wants the Senate to deal with cabinet confirmations and new legislation at the same time as an impeachment trial.

Mr Biden said in a statement: “I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation.”

There’s no sign that either House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are hesitating to go forward with a trial as they want to set a precedent and make a mark in the history books.

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Mr Schumer said in a statement: “Make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanours; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again. The president of the United States incited a violent mob against the duly elected government of the United States in a vicious, depraved and desperate attempt to remain in power. For the sake of our democracy, it cannot and must not be tolerated, excused, or go unpunished.”

Mr Graham said that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s decision not to call back the Senate early to hold a trial before Mr Trump leaves office was the “right call”.

“The House impeached President Trump without a hearing or witness, and the Senate Democrats would be willing to continue this division and legitimize the House procedures,” Mr Graham tweeted.

Mr Graham added that “impeachment in the House and trial in the Senate within a week would do great damage to our institutions and could insight further violence”.

Mr McConnell, who will go from Majority to Minority Leader as Mr Biden is sworn in on January 20, said in a statement that “there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week. The Senate has held three presidential impeachment trials. They have lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively. Even if the Senate process were to begin this week and move promptly, no final verdict would be reached until after President Trump had left office. This is not a decision I am making; it is a fact.”

Holding the door open to a possible conviction of Mr Trump, Mr McConnell wrote in a letter to his fellow Republican Senators that he has “not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate”.

Mr Graham who said “Count me out. Enough is enough,” after the Capitol riot, is back to supporting the president, calling around to his Senate colleagues urging them not to convict Mr Trump. The White House is not involved. Graham spokesperson Kevin Bishop told Politico that he has been “calling on his own”.

“Honestly we’re way ahead of any request from the White House,” Mr Bishop added.

Most Senate Republicans have not put out a statement on which way they lean ahead of the impeachment trial.

Senators Pat Toomey and Lisa Murkowski have said that Mr Trump has committed impeachable offences, and Ben Sasse has said he’s open to considering any articles of impeachment.

Another possible vote for conviction is Mitt Romney, the only Republican to vote to convict during Mr Trump’s first impeachment trial, who was reportedly furious during the riot.

“This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” Mr Romney told The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin as throngs of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol.

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