Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) opines on the House impeachment inquiry and Ukraine call transcript in an interview with FOX News' Martha MacCallum.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Judiciary Committee chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham was there then, and he joins us here now tonight --
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Yes, I’m still here.
MACCALLUM: When you look back at that, Senator, it sounds quite familiar in the reverse.
What do you make of Nancy Pelosi’s move here?
GRAHAM: Well, what I would ask her to do is allow the House to vote on whether or not there should be an impeachment inquiry.
One month before the 1998 election we had a vote in the House of Representatives where 31 Democrats voted with all the Republicans to open an inquiry into the impeachment of President Clinton, who was eventually denied law license for five years and fined by the court because of his conduct.
But the one thing I do believe America deserves is for every member of the House to agree to vote as to whether or not they agree there should be an inquiry of impeachment based on this transcript.
MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, obviously if you’re going to make this kind of charge, it would be helpful if they were willing to actually take a vote on it --
GRAHAM: If I could just -- if I could just -- if I could just add this --
GRAHAM: I don’t think she has the power to say we’re going to open an impeachment inquiry by herself. I think every member of the House should do what we did in 1998 -- vote.
And I can tell you there’s a -- Joe Cunningham, who seems like a fine fellow, is representing the 1st Congressional District in South Carolina, the Charleston area along the coast -- and I think he should be required to vote as to whether or not he believes the president has committed an impeachable offense.
MACCALLUM: You know, but in terms of Nancy Pelosi, the president said that he doesn’t think she’s the speaker of the House anymore. He’s suggesting that she -- she’s not in power, that she doesn’t have the ability to control her caucus. That she’s been overrun by this momentum and this emotion, which she pointed out back in 1998 was happening on -- she believes -- the Republican side.
GRAHAM: Well, I think there’s a -- I think it’s true here that they wanted to impeach Trump the day he got elected.
There’s been a lot of people in the Democratic Party who hate Trump’s guts and just after him every minute, 24 hours a day. But she’s kind of held those people at bay.
But here’s what disappoints me so much, she’s talking about articles of impeachment based on a phone call she had not -- the transcript which she had not read. She had made up her mind, because she’s lost control.
A whistleblower complaint is hearsay here. The whistleblower was not on the phone call -- they heard about the phone call from somebody else, and I want to know who informed the whistleblower about the phone call.
But the fact that Nancy Pelosi would argue for impeachment before she read the transcript tells me that she has lost control.
MACCALLUM: It’s interesting because you say that there were 30 some Democrats back in --
MACCALLUM: Thirty-one -- who voted with the Republicans for that impeachment move -- the articles of impeachment.
MACCALLUM: And now some of your colleagues are saying that they believe that there’s that number of Republicans in the Senate who would do the same thing now.
Mitt Romney spoke out about that, and he said, "It remains troubling in the extreme. It’s deeply troubling," about the transcript -- he told reporters on Wednesday when he was asked about it.
Here’s Mike Murphy, he says that if there were a secret vote 30 GOP Senators would vote to impeach -- watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: One Republican senator told me if it was a secret vote 30 Republican senators would vote to impeach Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Ben Sasse also speaking out -- just to, you know, put this together -- "Republicans ought not to be circling the wagons to say there’s no there there when there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling here."
GRAHAM: Well, number one, Senator Sasse I like a lot. But here’s what I would say to anybody. This phone call was billed as an attempt by the president of the United States to shake Ukraine down, to threaten to withhold military aid and assistance to the Ukraine unless the president of the Ukraine opened an investigation against his political opponent.
If you read this transcript, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. This is ridiculous. I’ve read the phone call transcript.
The president of the United States congratulated the Ukrainian president on -- on his win. Said we’ve been very generous to the Ukraine. You know, Germany and other people ought to pay more. That’s one of the reasons we’re withholding aid.
And -- and he did say, you know, corruption’s a problem in your country. They fired this prosecutor. I heard he was a pretty good guy, but one of the reasons he’s fired is because Joe Biden called for him to be fired. And his son was sitting on a board of a company being investigated by that prosecutor.
That to me is not a quid pro quo. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out a conflict. Joe Biden threatened to cut off aid to the Ukraine unless they fired a prosecutor who was looking at cases involving a company his son was receiving $50,000 a month.
Now, the point I’m trying to make here is there is no there there. You can be troubled all you would like, but if this is an impeachable offense -- this phone call -- God help the next person to be president of the United States.
MACCALLUM: But -- OK. Just -- just to be specific, what he -- what the president said on the call is, "Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he had stopped the prosecutions. So if you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me."
That does not trouble you?
GRAHAM: Not at all --
MACCALLUM: You know, given the fact that he, you know, could like -- very likely run against Joe Biden in the presidential election.
GRAHAM: It troubles me that Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, threatened to cut off aid to the Ukraine without disclosing a conflict.
There was a letter sent by Democratic senators in May 2018 threatening the Ukraine to cut off aid if they did not investigate Trump.
You’re going to hear a lot more about this conflict. A quid pro quo is if you do not do what I want, I’m going to punish you.
Read this transcript. No rational person would conclude that the president of the United States was threatening to cut off aid to the Ukraine unless they did something against Joe Biden and his son.
The truth of the matter is there was a conflict regarding the firing of the prosecutor. And if it had been a Republican who’d done this, it’d be front page news all over the world --
MACCALLUM: So Senator, what -- what are you going to do about that? I know Ron Johnson -- there’s talk about -- are you going to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son’s international business activities?
GRAHAM: I like Joe Biden. He’s a good friend of mine. I really honestly do like him, but somebody has to look at this conflict. And I would like somebody outside of politics. I don’t want to turn the Senate into the circus that the House has become.
Remember when we were told that Trump was colluding with the Russians. Schiff has him dead to rights.
I can’t believe they would talk about impeaching this president based on the transcript of this phone call. There is no there there. So what I hope --
MACCALLUM: So what do you mean you want someone on the outside to investigate? You want --
MACCALLUM: -- an independent investigator, an independent prosecutor?
What -- what are you talking about?
GRAHAM: I want -- I want somebody to look at whether or not there was a conflict of interest involved in Joe Biden asking for the Ukrainian prosecutor to be fired.
I want somebody to look at whether or not the $1.5 billion given to the Hunter Biden private equity account from China was on the up and up, because at the end of --
MACCALLUM: No, I got you. I’m just asking who you think that somebody should be. Should it be your committee, for example, should it be in the government?
GRAHAM: I -- I don’t want to turn my committee into a zoo like the House.
I think these are serious problems. I’m not accusing anybody of wrongdoing. I’m accusing the system of losing its way here. Somebody needs to look at these allegations.
Trump has been looked at every way you can be looked at. He’s been looked at for years by Mueller. Somebody needs to look at the conflict of interest here.
And at the end of the day, if you believe this is an impeachable offense or troubling, do something about it.
To my House colleagues, you -- you owe it to the American people to vote as to whether or not you believe this is an impeachable offense.
MACCALLUM: All right. We’re -- we’re going to speak to some of them right now on the other side of the aisle.