Graham says outcome of Trump impeachment trial "is really not in doubt"

Graham: Outcome of Trump trial "really not in doubt"
Graham: Outcome of Trump trial "really not in... 08:00

Washington — Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday that the outcome of former President Donald Trump's upcoming impeachment trial is "really not in doubt" as many Republicans believe the Senate lacks the authority to try a president who is no longer in office and will likely vote to acquit him.

"It's not a question of how the trial ends, it's a question of when it ends," Graham said in an interview with "Face the Nation." "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."

The Senate is poised to convene as a court of impeachment on Tuesday to hear House Democrats' case for why they believe Mr. Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors for his conduct in the weeks leading up to and the morning of the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol building. The House last month approved a single article of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with incitement of insurrection, and 10 Republicans joined Democrats in the historic vote.

While the House impeached the former president while he was still in office, Republican senators have raised questions as to the constitutionality of the upcoming impeachment trial, as the Constitution is silent on whether a former president can be tried. Chief Justice John Roberts will not preside over the proceedings, which Republicans say bolsters their case for why the Senate does not have the authority to try a president who is out of office.

Forty-five Republicans voted last month in favor of a motion brought by GOP Senator Rand Paul challenging the constitutionality of the impeachment trial, indicating Democrats are unlikely to garner support from the 17 Republicans they would need to convict Mr. Trump.

Graham said that while he does not believe the events of January 6 were "OK," he does believe that in the eyes of most Republicans, the impeachment trial 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," he said.

The South Carolina senator, who was one of Mr. Trump's closest allies in Congress, said lawmakers have never in history impeached a president once they're out of office.

"The Constitution I think has been flagrantly violated because when it comes to Trump, there seems to be no end to all of this," he said. "So the trial is going to result in an acquittal."

Graham said that the longer a trial takes, the worse it will be for the country.

"I'm ready to move on. I'm ready to end the impeachment trial because I think it's blatantly unconstitutional. I'm ready to get on with trying to solve the nation's problems," Graham said. "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."