Transcript: Senator Lindsey Graham on "Face the Nation," September 29, 2019

Graham: "I have zero problems" with Ukraine call

The following is a transcript of the interview with Senator Lindsey Graham that aired Sunday, September 29, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham. Senator good morning.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Good morning. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Big week here, but I want to begin where Nancy Pelosi just left off. She lays out what she says is most problematic the sequencing.

SEN. GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president in this call record says--

SEN. GRAHAM: Right. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --"Would you do us a favor?" He brings up debunked myth about the DNC server and then he brings up the Biden family and the need for an investigation. He repeatedly lays that out. And also the aid package is mentioned.

SEN. GRAHAM: Right.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have no problem with any of this?

SEN.GRAHAM: I have zero problems with this phone call-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Even with that sequencing? 

SEN. GRAHAM: I just told you I have zero problems with this phone call. There is no quid pro quo here 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. The only way to open up an impeachment inquiry is to vote. We need a John Hancock moment from House Democrats. Quit hiding behind Nancy Pelosi. If you think the president did something wrong in this phone call then vote to open up an article of impeachment inquiry and a lot of House Democrats won't because they're afraid.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well putting that political calculus aside I want to ask you about the content though--

SEN. GRAHAM: Yea.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --of this conversation. 

SEN. GRAHAM:Can I tell you about this conversation?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think it was ethical for--

SEN. GRAHAM: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  --the president to bring up Joe Biden? 

SEN. GRAHAM: Yes, absolutely. I think somebody ought to look at whether or not Joe Biden had the prosecutor fired in an improper way. I love Joe Biden. I don't want to look at it. I want an inspector general somebody like Mueller. Did Biden know that his son was receiving 50,000 dollars a month from a gas company being investigated by the prosecutor--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Isn't that just--

SEN. GRAHAM: --wait a minute--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --his payment--

SEN. GRAHAM: --wait a minute--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --for being on the board? 

SEN. GRAHAM: The--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you have reason to believe--

SEN. GRAHAM: The board- the guys--

MARGARET BRENNAN:  it was anything more than that?

SEN. GRAHAM: --on a board being investigated for corruption and the guy doing the investigation is asked to be fired by Biden. I don't know what happened. It smells to high heaven. I never said the Mueller witch hunt- the Mueller investigation was a witch hunt. I introduced legislation to protect Mueller. This seems to me like a political setup. It's all hearsay. You can't get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay. The whistle blower didn't hear the phone call. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. 

SEN GRAHAM: Who told the whistleblower-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- Which he says. 

SEN. GRAHAM: --about the phone call and everything else?

MARGARET BRENNAN: He says--

SEN. GRAHAM: Donald Trump is--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --multiple White House officials were discussing it.

SEN. GRAHAM: --still an American. Every American deserves to confront their accuser. So this is a sham as far as I'm concerned. I want to know who told the whistleblower about the phone call. I want to know why they changed the rules about whistleblowers not- the hearsay rule was changed just a short period of time before the complaint was filed. The complaint sounds like a legal document who help him- who helped this guy write it or this girl write it? We're not going to try the president of the United States based on hearsay. Every American has a right to confront their accuser.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You wanted the president to release this partial call record-- 

SEN GRAHAM: I did. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --but you're saying this is hearsay.The complaint on a number of fronts--

SEN GRAHAM: --who--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --is matched by

SEN. GRAHAM: --the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the call record--

SEN GRAHAM: --the transcript and the complaint are not matched--

SEN GRAHAM: --now- now wait a minute-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the reference to the DNC server--

SEN GRAHAM: --please let me talk-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the will you do--

SEN. GRAHAM: --please, please--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --a favor. I'm laying out the facts here.

SEN. GRAHAM: No- no you're not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The repeated-- 

SEN. GRAHAM: No, you're making an argument that--

MARGARET BENNAN: --reference to Joe Biden--

SEN GRAHAM: Here's the point--

MARGARET BRENNAN: All of those things--

SEN. GRAHAM: Joe Biden--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --are laid out here--

SEN. GRAHAM: --went to the--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --the face that the attorney general was brought up.

SEN GRAHAM: Nevermind. You know you've got an opinion and I got an opinion. You've got me on the show to tell me what- what I think. I think Mueller did a good job for the country and there was nothing there. I think this whole thing is a sham. I can't believe we're talking about impeaching the president based on an accusation based on hearsay. Who is this whistleblower? What bias do they have? Why did they pick this whistleblower to tell a hearsay story? The transcript does not match the complaint. What's going on here? Why did they change the rules about a whistleblower you can use hearsay when you could not just weeks before the complaint? So I think this thing stinks and let me tell you about Republican's - you want to know about Republicans? Republicans believe that you're guilty just by the accusation if you're Brett Kavanaugh it doesn't matter. They don't tell you when it happened and where it happened it just happened 30 years ago. If you're Donald Trump you don't get to confront your accuser like every other American. Republicans believe this president is being persecuted. 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.

MARGARTET BRENNAN: So the acting director of national intelligence who was put in that job by the Trump administration--

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: --said he believed that the whistleblower was--

SEN GRAHAM: No, he did not--

MARGARET BRENNAN: acting in good faith--

SEN. GRAHAM: No, he did not. He said they couldn't question his motives--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right--

SEN. GRAHAM: But he didn't know if it's true or not. So Adam Schiff read the- the- the- the transcript in a way that everybody would believe that Trump's guilty. The DNI did not say he- he could confirm this--

MARGARET BRENNAN No. 

SEN. GRAHAM: He didn't know- he didn't have any reason to believe the- the whistleblower's doing anything wrong. What I want to know, who told the whistleblower about the transcript? Who told the whistleblower about a phone call between the president of the United States and a foreign leader--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah, he--

SEN. GRAHAM: This is the third time a phone call has been compromised--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right--

SEN. GRAHAM: I've read the transcript. I'm fine with it, but I'm not fine with this president being impeached based on hearsay. Every American should be able to confront their accuser, including Donald Trump. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the-the whistleblower here says that multiple White House officials conveyed this to him--

SEN. GRAHAM: Who are they?

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the fact--

SEN. GRAHAM:  Who are they--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --pattern was laid out--

SEN. GRAHAM: What- what bias do they have--

MARGARET BRENNAN: To- to move on to another point--

SEN. GRAHAM: No, wait a minute. Let's stop right there. The whistleblower says I have no direct knowledge-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. 

SEN. GRAHAM: --multiple White House officials told me this-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes. 

SEN. GRAHAM: They tell me about a phone call. There's a disconnect. Who are these people, and what are they up to?  You know, this is- Mueller wasn't a witch hunt, but this is- Salem witch trials have more due process than this--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why-- 

SEN. GRAHAM: --due process than this--

MARAGARET BRENNAN: Do--

SEN. GRAHAM: How do you know she's a witch? Somebody told me she's a witch.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you think-- 

SEN. GRAHAM:  How do you know she's a witch? 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think the president's--

SEN. GRAHAM: I read articles thinking she might be a witch. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is advising him on this? Should he be out there publicly calling for the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden? 

SEN. GRAHAM:  Why don't you ask him? He's gonna be on. Corruption abounds in the Ukraine--

MARGARET BRENNAN: If he's doing a good job? Do you think he's being advised- advising the president well? 

SEN. GRAHAM: Here's what I think. I think nobody's asking about Joe Biden calling for the guy to be prosecuted- fired who's looking into a board that his son--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. 

SEN. GRAHAM: --sits on. And did Joe Biden know that his son was receiving 50,000 dollars when he asked for the prosecutor to be fired?

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know this prosecutor though because I know you cover Ukraine, and you watch Russia very closely--

SEN. GRAHAM: People say he's dirty. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know that he- yeah exactly.

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah, but you know what-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Not just the United States, the UK, IMF-- 

SEN. GRAHAM:   Did Joe Biden Know? Would you ask- would you ask--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- other international organizations. 

SEN. GRAHAM: Would you ask somebody this? Did Joe Biden know that his son was sitting on a board being investigated for corruption, and the guy doing the investigation, Joe Biden said, "If you don't fire this guy, I'll cut a billion dollars of aid off?" Now, why am I asking that? A lot of Republicans don't believe the New Yorker and the political fact-checkers are really as adequate substitute. I'm all asking is due to Joe Biden's scenario, what you did for Trump, find somebody, not me, outside of politics to look and see if it makes sense. I love Joe Biden as a person, but we cannot give--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Should that go--

SEN. GRAHAM: -- Democrats a pass and go after Republicans.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well our Paula Reid is reporting that Attorney General Bill Barr was quite upset to see his name linked in that transcript to this call for an investigation, his linked there--

SEN. GRAHAM: Well you need to talk- here's the thing--

MARGARET BRENNAN: -- to Rudy Giuliani, You have overs. Have you asked the Attorney General if he was asked to investigate--

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah, I did. I said, have you ever talked to Trump about anything in the Ukraine for corruption? No. Did the president ever ask you to call anybody in the Ukraine? Did he ever mention going after Joe Biden? No. So this is a phone call between two presidents, one just getting reelected- just got elected. Congratulations. We are very generous to the Ukraine. Other countries like Germany should do more. And oh, by the way, I've heard that this prosecutor that got fired, maybe he was a good guy and they fired him because he was looking at Joe Biden's son. Could you look into that? Congratulations. That to me is not a quid pro quo, and the entire whistle-blower complaint is based on hearsay and we're not going to impeach a president based on hearsay as long as I'm around. This is a sham. There's a political smell to this that's far different than Mueller. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: What did you tell the president when you were golfing with him yesterday? Are you advising him?

SEN. GRAHAM: Work with Blumenthal and Murphy on guns. Keep fighting back. We have your back on this. I'm openly telling everybody in the country I have the president's back because I think this is a setup. Work with us on guns. Try to do something on prescription drugs. Govern the country and make Iran pay a price. You had a measured response when they shot down the drone. It didn't work, Mr. President. They're running wild, the Iranians, put them back in a box. Try to be a good president. Defend yourself. And that's what Bill Clinton did. These numbers you saw--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. 

SEN. GRAHAM: The only thing I can tell you, Americans are fair. And if they believe President Trump did something troubling, they'll count- they'll account for that, but I don't think they're going to remove a man for office based on a hearsay accusation. And Bill Clinton was able to do two things at once. Defend himself and govern the country. And that's my advice to President Trump. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Graham, thank you.