Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested changing Senate rules to allow President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial to start without the two articles of impeachment being sent by the House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to hold onto the articles—an unprecedented move that has brought the process to a standstill and prompted debate among legal scholars and calls of obstruction from Republicans.
Graham said he would give the House a week to act before pushing to have the Senate’s rules changed.
“If we don’t get the articles this week, then we need to take matters in our own hands and change the rules, deem them to be delivered to the Senate so we can start the trial, invite the House over to participate if they would like, if they don’t come, dismiss the case and get on with governing the country,” Graham told Fox News.
The South Carolina Republican, considered one of Trump’s key allies in the Senate, said he wants the trial to be done by the end of January, adding that the rule changes could come in “days, not weeks” if the articles are held in the House, which voted on Dec. 18 to impeach Trump mostly along party lines. A few Democrats broke with their party to vote against one or more articles, while one voted “present.” All Republicans voted against the articles.
Graham, when he served in the House, was one of the 13 Republican managers during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.
The current strategy employed by Democrats, Graham argued, is potentially harmful to the executive branch’s power as well as the future of the presidency itself. Pelosi hasn’t said when Democrats would transmit the articles to the upper chamber.
In the days after the vote to impeach Trump, Pelosi said her caucus needs to see how the Senate will react before sending over the articles—obstruction of Congress and abuse of power—and House managers during the Senate trial. The Democrat-ruled House needs a simple majority to impeach a president while the Senate, which has a 53-Republican majority, needs a 67-vote supermajority to remove a president.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has argued that several current and former White House officials, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former Trump adviser John Bolton, should testify during the next phase. However, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has rejected Schumer’s request.
During the Fox interview, Graham provided a glimpse of the Republican majority’s strategy on how they would like the trial to proceed.
“We’ll 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 argument why the two articles are flawed, and then we’ll decide whether we want witnesses. But this should be done in a couple of weeks,” he said.