Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina continued his defense of President Trump and his attempts to pressure Ukraine's leader to investigative political rivals, accusing congressional Democrats of staging a "political setup" to remove the president from office.
"I have zero problems with this phone call. There's no quid pro quo here," Graham said on "Face the Nation" Sunday, referring to a conversation the president had with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, in July. "But I do have a problem with Nancy Pelosi. If you believe that Donald Trump did something to hurt this country, you owe [it] to vote, not talk about impeaching the president."
After it emerged that Mr. Trump pressed Zelensky to order a criminal probe into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, the Democratic-led House last week launched ainto Mr. Trump's conduct in office.
But Graham said Democrats are "afraid" of bringing articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump because he believes their caucus does not have enough votes to approve them.
Asked about the specific allegations in theat the center of the impeachment drive against Mr. Trump, Graham said lawmakers and the American public could not rely on "hearsay" to investigate a president.
"This seems to me like a political setup. It's all hearsay," Graham said. "You can't get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay."
The whistleblower acknowledged in his complaint that he was not a "direct witness" to most of the events he referenced. But he or she said the allegations stemmed from information and accounts received from more than half a dozen White House and State Department officials.
In anairing Sunday night, Pelosi pushed back against accusations by Republicans that Democrats have launched a desperate and politically motivated fishing expedition. She suggested there is ample evidence that Mr. Trump's actions could amount to high crimes and misdemeanors — the constitutional standard for impeachment.
"They're wrong," Pelosi told correspondent Scott Pelley. "And it remains to be seen, because it's not just what happens in the call. It's part of the sequence of events as well."
Graham on Sunday said he wanted to find out which officials talked to the whistleblower. But he reiterated he believes the complaint — along with the impeachment inquiry it has prompted — is part of political ploy to undermine Mr. Trump's presidency.
"Republicans believe this president is being persecuted," Graham said. "They don't love Donald Trump and the way he does business. They like what he does, but they believe he's being persecuted. They believe that everybody's out to get him and I believe as to this complaint it smells."