Sen. Graham: If Trump Committed a Crime, He Should Be Prosecuted, Not Impeached

By Susan Jones | February 8, 2021 | 8:30am EST
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been among President Trump's staunchest supporters. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been among President Trump's staunchest supporters. (Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - "The president's behavior, in my view, is not a crime," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "But he can be charged with one if people think he committed it because he's now a private citizen."

Sen. Graham is among the Republicans (Rand Paul is another) who say it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial of a president who is already out of office.

Well, here's what I would say -- that if you believe he committed a crime, he can be prosecuted like any other citizen. Impeachment is a political process. We've never impeached a president once they're out of office.

I think this is a very bad idea. Forty-five plus Republicans are going to vote early on that it's unconstitutional. It's not a question of how the trial ends. It's a question of when it ends. Republicans are going to view this as an unconstitutional exercise.

And the only question is, will they call witnesses? How long does the trial take? But the outcome is really not in doubt. That doesn't mean what happened on January the 6th was OK. It means this impeachment, in the eyes of most Republicans, is an unconstitutional exercise.

The president's behavior, in my view, is not a crime. But he can be charged with one if people think he committed it because he's now a private citizen.

Not only is Donald Trump out of office, but the chief justice of the Supreme Court is not presiding at the Senate trial, something the Constitution requires. Article I, Section 3 states, "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside."

But Chief Justice John Roberts declined to preside, "because Trump is not president," Graham said.

"So this is not process. The Constitution, I think, is being flagrantly violated, because when it comes to Trump, there seems to be no end to all of this. So, the trial is going to result in an acquittal.

"Most Republicans -- I don't know what Senator Toomey is going to do -- is going to view this as unconstitutional. And the president's behavior is not incitement under the law, and the longer it takes, the worse off for the country, I believe."

Graham said members of Congress are not prosecutors: "Impeachment is never meant to be a prosecution."

Graham said he's ready to "move on" and concentrate on solving the nation's problems.

"And as to Donald Trump, he is the most popular figure in the Republican Party. He had a consequential presidency. January the 6th was a very bad day for America, and he'll get his share of blame in history.

“But I do believe that, in 2022, the Republican Party is going to come roaring back, because our friends on the Democratic Party -- on the Democratic side are going to change immigration policy to have caravan after caravan hit our borders...they're going to raise our taxes. And they are going to weaken us across the board,” Graham said.

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