News and Commentary

Sen. Lindsey Graham: Change Senate Rules To Begin Impeachment Trial; Pelosi Withholding Articles Is ‘Constitutional Extortion’
Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., arrives for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation," on Tuesday, JuLY 23, 2019.
Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on Fox Business Network’s “Sunday Morning Futures” with host Maria Bartiromo to discuss the strike against Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, as well as the ongoing withholding of impeachment articles by Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

During the segment on impeachment, Bartiromo first asked Graham what he was expecting in a Senate trial.

Graham replied:

Well, I hope to have the trial over by the end of January. [We] would use the Clinton model, where you take the record established in the House, let the House managers appointed by Pelosi make the argument, let the president make his arguments of why the two articles are flawed, and then we’ll decide whether or not we want witnesses – but this should be done in a couple of weeks.

Graham said that he views Pelosi’s withholding of the articles as “a political stunt,” and that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t “going to let [Pelosi] run the Senate trial,” adding that Pelosi’s “time is over.”

Bartiromo then pressed Graham as to how the Senate can begin an impeachment trial if the House won’t deliver the articles, as required by the Senate rules.

The Senate rules pertaining to impeachment read in part:

When the managers of an impeachment shall be introduced at the bar of the Senate and shall signify that they are ready to exhibit articles of impeachment against any person, the Presiding Officer of the Senate shall direct the Sergeant at Arms to make proclamation, who shall, after making proclamation, repeat the following words, viz: ‘‘All persons are commanded to keep silence, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against [insert name]’’; after which the articles shall be exhibited, and then the Presiding Officer of the Senate shall inform the managers that the Senate will take proper order on the subject of the impeachment, of which due notice shall be given to the House of Representatives.

Upon such articles being presented to the Senate, the Senate shall, at 1 o’clock afternoon of the day (Sunday excepted) following such presentation, or sooner if ordered by the Senate, proceed to the consideration of such articles and shall continue in session from day to day (Sundays excepted) after the trial shall commence (unless otherwise ordered by the Senate) until final judgment shall be rendered, and so much longer as may, in its judgment, be needful.

Graham replied:

Well, we’re not going to let Nancy Pelosi use the rules of the Senate to her advantage. This is dangerous for the presidency as an institution. They’ve impeached the president, but the speaker of the House is holding the articles back, trying to extort from the majority leader of the Senate a trial to her liking. They’re trying to hold these articles over the head of the president.

Graham added that he believes the reason the House is holding the articles of impeachment is because “they’re so weak,” and “they’re looking to add something.”

What I would do if she continues to refuse to send the articles as required by the Constitution, I would work with Senator McConnell to change the rules of the Senate so we could start the trial without her if necessary.

When asked how long that would take (days or weeks), Graham castigated Pelosi’s behavior, saying that “the Founders never envisioned you’d have a speaker do something like … withhold the articles demanding the Senate bend to her will.” Graham then said that if Pelosi “does not [release the articles], I would urge Senator McConnell, with my colleagues, to change the rules of the Senate so that we could proceed to the trial without Nancy Pelosi being involved.”

Bartiromo again asked about the timing, and further asked if Graham would “file a motion to dismiss.”

Graham reiterated his previous answer, adding that the House would be invited to participate in the trial, but “if they don’t come,” he would like the Senate to “dismiss the case and get on with governing the country.”

“This is an abuse of power; this is constitutional extortion. What she’s doing is very bad for the presidency, it’s very bad for the Senate as an institution, and it cannot stand,” Graham concluded.