With Trump on the verge of becoming the first president to be impeached twice, the White House has remained largely on the sidelines. During Trump’s first impeachment, Trump had a full legal team and a White House courier operation – one that recruited Trump’s best allies on Capitol Hill and other outside advisers to defend the president on the air. .
But as the House prepared for a vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, few Republicans openly defended the president. Instead, some have harangued the House impeachment process as rushed and unfair, and arguing that Democrat-led efforts would further divide the country.
In a statement Wednesday, Graham criticized the Senate leadership for its handling of the House impeachment process, saying GOP leaders “are making the problem worse, not better.
While Graham was not specific, his comments came after The New York Times first reported, and confirmed by POLITICO, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his associates that ‘he believed Trump had committed uneasy crimes after instigating Wednesday’s insurgency on Capitol Hill, which left at least five people dead.
“The last thing the country needs is an impeachment trial for a president who will step down in a week,” Graham said in his statement, calling on the handful of Republicans who have already said they will vote for dismissal.
In the aftermath of the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill, Graham had gone to the Senate to chastise the president and his supporters. “Enough is enough,” he said of the effort to stop Biden’s victory certification. “Don’t count on me.”
Two days after the riots, Graham warned President Nancy Pelosi against prosecute articles of impeachment. On the same day, however, he was heckled at an airport by Trump supporters, who called him a traitor.
Tuesday, Graham rode with Trump on Air Force One at a stop at the southern border. That night, the rumor began to circulate that the senator was asking his GOP colleagues to issue their own anti-impeachment statements in order to close ranks around Trump and stop the momentum that seemed to be building when McConnell has been reported to be personally comfortable with the president’s ouster. Graham’s efforts surprised at least some executives.
“Lindsey often does her own thing often without her staff looping,” said a senior GOP Senate official.
So far, few Republican senators have questioned whether Trump’s conduct has reached the level of impeachment, although some have criticized his rhetoric that fueled the insurgency.