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ICYMI: Here's what you missed on Sunday's "Face the Nation", December 15, 2019

12/15: Face The Nation
12/15: Graham, Durbin, Lightizer 46:44

A week before the holiday break, Congress is pushing ahead with Trump impeachment and attempting to fund the federal government. The White House, however, is hailing victory after two separate trade wins for the administration. 

Here's the big takeaways from Sunday's episode of "Face the Nation" with Margaret Brennan

Graham blasts Dems for "weaponizing" impeachment process

Graham says House Democrats "weaponizing" impeachment 01:27
  • Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham slammed Democrats for "shutting the president out" of the House impeachment process, claiming members of Congress are "weaponizing impeachment" for future presidents to come. 
  • What Graham said: ""I have nothing but disdain for this," Graham told CBS News' "Face the Nation." "I think this whole thing is a crock," he said. "You're shutting the president out. The process in the House, any partisan group could do this in the future. You're weaponizing impeachment. And I want to end it. I don't want to legitimize it. I hate what they're doing."
  • On the Biden probe: The GOP senator said he's pushing forward with his own probe of a close friend, former vice president and current 2020 contender Joe Biden.  
  • "I love Joe Biden, but none of us are above scrutiny," Graham told "Face the Nation," when asked about Biden's recent comment that Graham's approach to the Ukraine scandal is something he would "regret his whole life." Graham has promised to look into son Hunter Biden's work for Ukrainian gas company Burisma, echoing a demand from President Trump that's at the center of the impeachment proceedings against him.
  • Why this all matters: While Graham blames Democrat for "shutting out" Trump from the impeachment process, over the course of the entire impeachment saga, the White House repeatedly defied House subpoenas for documents and blocked key administration officials from testifying in inquiry into President Trump's alleged quid pro quo arrangement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. But Graham represents a growing caucus of Republicans ready to go to war as a key Trump ally -- a sign of what's to come as the probe heads to the Senate. 

Durbin pushes McConnell-Schumer talks for Senate impeachment trial

Durbin says Trump would want to call witnesses in Senate trial if they "would exonerate him" 06:18

  • Illinois Senator Dick Durbin urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to work with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to ensure an impeachment trial in the Senate is conducted in the "proper way."  
  • What Durbin said: "Let's have Senator McConnell sit down with Senator Schumer ... and start this proceeding in the proper bipartisan way. That hasn't happened yet. I don't know what Senator McConnell is waiting for," Durbin said Sunday on "Face the Nation," noting that during impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton,then-Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott worked closely with then-Democratic leader Tom Daschle.  
  • On Trump's potential witnesses in the Senate: Durbin said he would expect Mr. Trump to support calling witnesses if they could clear him of wrongdoing. 
  • "It appears to be there are no witnesses the president would want to call to exonerate himself," the Illinois Democrat said. "Maybe such a witness doesn't exist, I don't know."
  • Why that matters: While the specific details of the Senate trial, such as how long it will last and whether the president's lawyers will call any witnesses to testify, remain unclear, both parties appear to want to put the responsibility on leadership to hash out the rules of the road for impeachment. McConnell maintains, however that "there will be no difference between the president's position and our position" as to how to handle the Senate trial. 

Lighthizer hails trade victories as "most momentous day in trade history"

U.S. trade rep hails USMCA, China deals as "most momentous day in trade history ever" 09:22

  • U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer hailed recent breakthroughs on two different trade fronts, calling Friday "the most momentous day in trade history ever."
  • What Lighthizer said: "It was extremely momentous and indicative of where we're going, what this president has accomplished," Lighthizer told "Face the Nation."
  • Why that matters: The administration was able to take a victory lap after the White House submitted a deal with House Democrats on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the announcement of the first phase of a trade agreement with China. Both developments came during a particularly tumultuous time for the White House, which is in the middle of the contentious impeachment battle. 
  • But While Lighthizer heralded the USMCA agreement as one that "will be the model for American trade deals going forward" just one day after his comments, Mexico objected to certain portions of the legislation presented to Congress. It's unclear what this means for the future of the trade pact. 
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