Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were instrumental in getting key swing votes in the Senate to vote against calling more witnesses in the Democrat-led impeachment of President Donald Trump.
On Friday’s episode of Cruz’s podcast, “Verdict,” co-hosted by The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles, the two senators explained exactly how they were able to get Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Lisa Murkowski (I-AK) to vote against calling more witnesses even though they previously had expressed they would likely vote for calling witnesses.
“It really came down to we knew we had 47 Democrats who wanted more witnesses. Why? Because they knew they hadn’t proven the case, they’re losing, and so the only hope they have is [to] extend it, go on a fishing expedition and see if they can find something,” Cruz explained. “The big, open question was: Were four Republicans going to join them? We knew that two Republicans were – they’d announced it already – Mitt Romney and Susan Collins with [Democrats]. There were two other senators in play, Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski and it was close. Last night, Lamar announced that he was going to come out and say, ‘Enough is enough’ and we got a final decision from Lisa today just a few minutes before she voted.”
Graham said that he and Cruz “had a little team trying to convince people” to vote against more witnesses.
“So, what would happen if you called witnesses? It’d be a shitshow,” Graham said. “You’re not just going to call John Bolton. If you’re going to call a witness, we’re going to call all the witnesses. Wouldn’t you want to know a little bit about the Bidens?”
Graham added that the Senate would be opening “Pandora’s Box” by allowing Bolton to testify even though his testimony wouldn’t have been necessary if Democrats had already proved their case.
“Ted made a very eloquent argument that it throws the courts into chaos,” Graham continued. “It would be the first impeachment in history where executive privilege would be decided by the United States Senate; that if you call one witness, you’re going to call a bunch of witnesses; the president didn’t get to call one witness in the House.”
“The whole idea of legitimizing an impeachment in the House that took 78 days. You can’t get a parking ticket [taken care of] in 78 days if you contest it,” Graham added.
Graham said he and Cruz tried to convince Alexander and Murkowski that House Democrats were trying to get the Senate to do their work for them.
“Don’t legitimize this. Don’t do their work for them. They’re accusing you of being unfair because you did not call a witness they chose not to call,” Graham said. “Why didn’t they call John Bolton? Because it would be inconvenient; they couldn’t impeach the president by Christmas. That’s not a good reason to ignore the courts.”
Cruz said the “pivotal moment” came on Wednesday, when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) spoke about having Bolton testify.
“Adam Schiff made a mistake,” Cruz said. “He was standing up, arguing, and he said. ‘Listen, the White House defense team have made John Bolton relevant because they have contradicted what he said.’ And then he threw a little aside, he said, ‘If they’d have stipulated to it, then they’d have an argument.’”
Cruz said that he went back into the cloak room and texted his staff to get him a transcript of exactly what Schiff had just said. Once he had it, he and Graham spoke to Alexander and Murkowski.
“This idea of if you stipulate to a quid pro quo, if you agree, even if there isn’t a quid pro quo, we win, that might get their vote,” Cruz suggested. “That might give them a ground to be comfortable.”
He said Alexander and Murkowski “were open to the idea,” but not quite convinced. Cruz went on to say that the most important question was asked the next day by Graham (with writing help from Cruz), asking to assume that if Bolton testifies and everything he says is true, that there was a quid pro quo, is that an impeachable offense?
“And the White House lawyers – they didn’t want to go down this road. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this point and I’ll tell you, there was some kicking and screaming that Lindsey and I were both engaged with,” Cruz said. “But they got up and they gave the answer – the most important – and said, ‘Look, even if he testifies, even if he says it was a quid pro quo, it doesn’t change that it’s an impeachable offense, which means his testimony isn’t necessary.’”
Graham added: “If we call John Bolton now, won’t the president raise executive privilege? Because if he doesn’t, he forfeits that for future protests. Do we as senators destroy the privilege? It would be the first impeachment in history where there was no court access.”
“What happens if we try to capture this testimony?” Graham continued. “The president was denied the chance to go to court in the House, they shut him out. What if we say now we want to call him for a new reason and if he asks to go to court… it might be the first time in history the president was impeached without trying to avail the courts.”
Cruz said later in the podcast that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also helped solidify Murkowsi and Alexander’s votes against calling more witnesses, The Daily Wire previously reported. Warren had forced Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts to read out a question asking whether him presiding over the impeachment trial would “contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, or Constitution?”
“Elizabeth Warren helped defeat the impeachment of the president of the United States,” Cruz said in the podcast, adding that the stunt “helped deliver the votes of” Alexander and Murkowski.
While explaining why she decided to vote against calling more witnesses, the Alaska senator said it had “become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice.”
“I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another,” Murkowski said. “We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”