Lindsey Graham, one of Donald Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, praised Bill Clinton’s handling of his impeachment inquiry at a press conference Thursday that was meant to be a fiery defense of the current president.
After the press conference as over, Graham walked back comments he made about how the Trump White House is handling the Democrats’ impeachment strategy.
He seemed to imply the president needed to hire a new team to deal with the investigation, which escalated this week in the wake of testimony from the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine.
In contrast, Graham praised the way former President Clinton handled his impeachment inquiry in the 1990s. Graham, who was in the House of Representatives at that time, was an impeachment manager of that case.
Lindsey Graham, one of Donald Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, praised Bill Clinton’s handling of his impeachment inquiry
Bill Clinton, when he was president in the 1990s, brought in an outside team to defend himself against a Republican-led impeachment inquiry
Clinton brought in an outside team to handle his defense against the Republican-led impeachment inquiry – a strategy some Republicans have urged President Trump to emulate as he fights the Democrats. Clinton was successfully acquitted by the Senate.
‘You know, I was involved in impeachment of President Clinton. I know this sounds weird, but Clinton – look what he did. What he did is, he had a team that was organized, had legal minds that could understand what was being said versus the legal proceedings in question and they were on message every day.’
He went on to add that Clinton ‘never stopped being president’ even as the Republican-led House investigated him.
‘I think one of the reasons that he survived is that the public may not have liked what the president had done, but believed that he was still able to do his job and as he governed during impeachment, I think probably the single best thing he did, quite frankly,’ Graham said of the former president.
He was asked if he made that case to President Trump, to whom he talks to frequently, golfs with often and had lunch with earlier that day.
‘I’m hoping that will become the model here,’ Graham said.
President Trump on Thursday morning tweeted his thanks to House Republicans for their support in the impeachment inquiry; he made no mention of the Senate
But Graham clarified comments had made about the Trump administration’s handling of the investigation within an hour after his press conference ended.
Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, tweeted the ‘update’ after he finished talking to reporters about a resolution he introduced in the Senate condemning the way Democrats are handling the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
‘UPDATE from PRESS CONFERENCE,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘I did not mean to leave some with the impression the White House needed to hire a new team to handle impeachment. My interactions with the White House were in regards to a more coordinated strategy dealing with impeachment.’
‘What is in development at the White House is the emphasis on a strategy — not personnel,’ he added.
At his press conference, Graham said he talked to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who was working on putting together a defensive team for the president.
‘I talked to chief of staff Mulvaney,’ Graham said. ‘I think they’re working on getting a messaging team together.’
The White House has struggled with its response to the investigation into the president and criticism of how officials are handling the situation.
Trump considers himself his own, best spokesperson and has tweeted frequently in his defense.
Earlier this month, Mulvaney arranged to bring former Congressman Trey Gowdy on as an outside counsel. Graham, Mulvaney, and Gowdy are all from South Carolina and are close.
But Gowdy wanted to put off his employment until January because of a Congressional ethics rule that former members can’t try to influence lawmakers for one year after they leave office. Gowdy left Capital Hill in January of this year.
Many, however, were concerned that would leave President Trump too long without a central defense and, in the end, Gowdy did not join the team.
Meanwhile, the impeachment inquiry heated up this week after testimony from Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has worked on Trump’s defense
The impeachment inquiry heated up this week after the testimony of Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine
Taylor testified that he was told by Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, that Trump had linked U.S. military aid to public declarations by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that he would investigate Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s tenure on the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma, and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Democrats called it the most damaging evidence to date against President Trump.
Trump has denied any quid pro quo was at play.
And on Thursday Graham introduced a resolution condemning the Democrats handling of the House’s impeachment inquiry and calling on them to hold a vote in the full House on going forward with the investigation.
He called it a ‘star-chamber’ inquiry that is ‘inconsistent with due process.’
Democrats, who control a majority in the House, would be able to pass such a resolution but it would put lawmakers in swing-districts on the record about the matter going into an election year.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, has claimed it’s Republicans who should be worried about how many of their members don’t want a vote.
There has been speculation Republican leaders are trying to get their GOP lawmakers on the record supporting President Trump in case things change down the road.
Graham tweeted, as of Thursday evening, he had 44 co-sponsors of his resolution. All are Republicans.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is supporting it.
‘Chairman Graham’s and my resolution urges the House to begin respecting the precedents and due process safeguards that have been ignored thus far. These are not partisan matters. They are extremely serious questions of due process and the rule of law,’ he said in a statement.
Senate Republicans have stepped up their defense of the president this week as the odds are seen as increasing Trump will face an impeachment trial in the upper chamber.
The House votes on articles of impeachment and the Senate holds the trial.
Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a resolution condemning Democrats’ handling of the impeachment inquiry into Trump
Some House Republicans, who have been staunchly defending the president, have expressed frustration they have not seem similar action from the upper chamber.
GOP lawmakers in the lower chamber stormed the secure room in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday to protest the closed-door testimony being held in the inquiry.
Additionally, on Monday, Republicans tried and fail to censure Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment inquiry, on the House floor.
Trump praised their efforts.
‘Thank you to House Republicans for being tough, smart, and understanding in detail the greatest Witch Hunt in American History,’ Trump tweeted Thursday morning. ‘It has been going on since long before I even got Elected (the Insurance Policy!). A total Scam!’
He made no mention of the Senate.