tv Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham Holds News Conference CSPAN October 25, 2019 4:52am-5:15am EDT
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republican colleagues signed the resolution and said more would do so. senator graham also spoke briefly of a military plane for syria and isis fighters. sen. graham: you get overtime. i apologize. starts over here? ok, thank you very much. i have introduced a resolution today with senator mcconnell, and the purpose of the resolution is to let the house know that the process you are engaging in regarding the attempted impeachment of president trump is out of bounds. it is inconsistent with due process as we know it. it is a star chamber type inquiry and a substantial deviation from what the house has done in the past regarding impeachment of other presidents. one i can speak of firmly is the impeachment of president clinton.
so what i want to highlight here -- no, this one. in 2019, congressman al green wanted to open up an impeachment inquiry, which is the right way to do it, by the way. 137 democrats voted with the g.o.p. against impeaching president trump. not one republican for an inquiry, and what's happened is that the attempt to open up an inquiry of impeachment against president trump failed miserably , so they have created a new process that i think is very dangerous for the country. instead of the judiciary looking at a potential impeachable offense, they have created an -- a process in the intel committee that's behind closed doors, doesn't provide access to the president's accuser, shuts republicans out for all practical purposes, and is an unworthy substitute for the way you need to do it. is at its core un-american. i can tell you what we did in the past.
let's go to 1998. in 1998, in october, we had an impeachment inquiry vote on the floor of the house. i was there. 31 democrats voted to open up an impeachment inquiry, and after -- where is the other chart? these were the rights given to president clinton, his team, and members of the minority. none of this exists today. what's going on is a run-around of the impeachment process, creating a secret proceeding behind closed doors that fundamentally is, in my view, denies due process. and when you're talking about removing the president of the united states, seems to me you'd want to have a process that is consistent with who we are as americans, and consistent with what bill clinton was allowed to do, richard nixon was allowed to
do, and the process in the house today, i think, is danger to the future of the presidency. because if you can drive down a president's poll numbers by having proceedings where you selectively leak information, where the president, who's the subject of all this, is pretty much shut out, god help future presidents. i have got 41 co-sponsors on the republican side and climbing. and here's the request. if you believe you have a case against the president, vote to open up an inquiry, allow republicans to have a say, make sure the president is allowed to participate in a meaningful manner, like we did in the past. that's the way to do it. what you're doing today, in my view, is unfair to the president and is dangerous to the presidency, and i think 41 republican senators and growing is a strong signal to our house colleagues that you're off
script here. there's a way to do it, a right way and a wrong way, and you've chosen the wrong way. yes, ma'am. reporter: senator graham, your committee interviewed half a dozen people behind closed doors in your russia investigation. donald trump, jr., simpson, and then you released a transcript at the end. how is that any different? sen. graham: i didn't interview any of these witnesses. that was pretty much intel. reporter: this is the judiciary committee. sen. graham: yes. that is what i am saying this is not informal. we are looking at the russia investigation. mueller testified. so this was all about mueller. so here's what happened. ken starr spent almost five years looking at clinton. he came before the committee. we had an impeachment inquiry vote. ken starr put forth to the senate judiciary committee the 11 allegations against president clinton. we passed four articles of impeachment based on the starr report that was transparent,
subject to cross-examination in public. it was a public hearing. and two of those articles passed the house. what mueller did was investigate the president for two years, spent $25 million, and did not recommend any action. that's the difference. reporter: when it comes to impeachment messaging, it seems like the white house's team -- a white house has changed course multiple times. sen. graham: have you noticed? reporter: at this point, are you confident you guys are on the same page? is it the hill now leading this messaging strategy? sen. graham: so, i talked to chief of staff mulvaney. i think they're working on getting a messaging team together. you know, i was involved in impeachment of president clinton. i know this sounds weird, but clinton, look what he did. what he did is he had a team that was organized, had legal minds that could understand what
was being said versus the legal proceedings in question, and they were all messaged every day. the president -- clinton defended himself. but he never stopped being president. i think one of the reasons that he survived is that the public may not have liked what the president had done but believed that he was still able to do his job, and as he governed during impeachment, i think that was probably the single best thing he did, quite frankly, to avoid that. i'm hoping that will become the model here. reporter: senator, you referred to robert mueller's investigation and ken starr's investigation. there is no prosecutor looking into the allegations that the combined house committees are looking into. you were a prosecutor, sir. would you ever have conducted an investigation when -- in which
your witnesses were allowed to speak in public and give other witnesses the opportunity to get their stories straight? sen. graham: that's a very good point. during the whole mueller investigation, i backed off of calling a lot of the key witnesses because i didn't want to get in his lane. now, i'm being asked by republican folks out in the republican world, why don't you call adam schiff? well, i think that would do a lot of damage to the country for a senator to call a member of the house. you have a speech and debate problem. but if you think adam schiff is a fact witness, why isn't donald trump a fact witness? the point is, that's not a process that i think will withstand scrutiny. durham is looking at potential misconduct about things that happened in 2016. particularly involving ukraine. reporter: this isn't about 2016, senator. this is about what the president has been doing with ukraine along with his personal lawyer and the justice department has declined to investigate that.
there is no prosecutor looking into it. and so the house has to do the job of prosecutors. sen. graham: well, here's what i am saying. are you suggesting there needs to be a special counsel for ukraine? reporter: [indiscernible] -- would you support a special counsel? sen. graham: i have been trying to get a special counsel to look at all things 2016 from our side. mueller gave the trump campaign a pretty good -- reporter: this is not about 2016. sen. graham: it is to me. here's the process. why did i support mueller? to me there was a conflict at the justice department. why did i introduce legislation that you can only fire mueller for cause? because i thought it was important for the country for somebody outside politics to look at this. i think somebody outside politics should look at the things that i'm concerned about in 2016. you may not be, but i think the fisa warrant application could be considered a fraud on the court. we will see from horowitz. i am not a prosecutor. when it comes to whether or not
somebody other than the house should look at ukraine, i want to look at all things. reporter: senator graham, senator graham. reporter: senator, you said a secret, illegitimate process -- sen. graham: that's my view. reporter: what do you say to the argument that 47 of your republican house colleagues who serve on these committees, they have the right to be in there, it's not secret, it's bipartisan. sen. graham: i would say if we pull this off, you would be eating us alive. let me finish and let me tell you why. how many people have asked me about bill taylor's opening statement? all i can say is if we had rudy giuliani's opening statement, and he said, i did nothing wrong, i doubt if you would accept that. so 47 republican house members feel like it's not working for them. they feel like that volker's testimony has been selectively released. radcliffe's cross-examination of taylor is not available to you. so the people that you named are
as upset as i am. here's what i would say. there's a way to do it. these rights that every other president, nixon, clinton have had, and take a vote to allow the house to be on record authorizing this. this is a rogue action by a single committee of the house that has never done impeachment inquiries before, and i think it's dangerous to the president. those 47 don't agree with you. >> [speaking simultaneously] reporter: in the case of richard nixon, the house began its impeachment inquiry behind closed doors in october of 1973. sen. graham: did they have a vote? reporter: they didn't have an impeachment resolution until months later in 1974. it is similar to this. sen. graham: here is what i am saying. nixon eventually resigned. peter rodino designed the process. i remember the watergate hearings very well. jim rogan, who was an
impeachment manager with me during the clinton impeachment, met up with rodino to try to figure out how they did it. and newt knows this better than i do. i think the american people were not with us on substance when it came to clinton, but i do believe what we did very much mirrored the watergate way of doing business. i remember the watergate hearings. i don't remember any hearings in public about whether or not donald trump did something wrong in ukraine. and here's what -- this is why republicans are so frustrated. if we had done this to a democrat, you'd be eating us alive. if we took an opening statement of a witness and said, there, doesn't that look bad? you would want to know, well, did anybody question the witness? how did cross-examination go? so we believe that a lot of people want to get trump and they don't give a damn about how they get him. i am not telling you what he did or didn't do. i'm telling you what they're doing in the house is dangerous to the country. reporter: what can you tell us about your lunch today with the
president? what happened? senator graham: it was good. we had beef. so here's some news. we had a situation room briefing by general milley about developments in syria. there were eight or 10 senators. there's a plan coming together from the joint chiefs that i think may work, that may give us what we need to prevent isis from coming back, iran taking the oil, isis from taking the oil. i am somewhat encouraged that a plan is coming about that will meet our core objectives in syria. as to the lunch, he felt like from the time he's become president, he's been hounded about things he didn't do. he feels like it never ends, and that when it comes to donald trump, nobody really cares if he has a fair day in court but a handful of republicans. i don't know what to tell him
other than i told him every time he said mueller was a witch-hunt, which was like every day, i said, i am not going there. because i know mueller. when i introduced a resolution making sure mueller could not be fired unless there was cause, he didn't like that, but i said, mr. president, i know you're frustrated. there's nothing worse than being accused of something you didn't do. it just eats away at your soul. and we made it through mueller. we didn't do any real damage to the idea of nobody is above the law. i think mueller had a really good opportunity to look at all things russia and trump. now, here we are again with the ukraine. i've told you what i think about the phone call. to me, it's not an impeachable offense. i have got no problem with the phone call. but you have got other people coming forward. you got the president of the ukraine saying, no, there was no quid pro quo. all i am saying is you tried an impeachment inquiry vote and you failed, and now you're creating a process in the intel committee
that i think is star chamber like in any sense. reporter: senator, how does a vote on something like this not taint the jury pool? senator graham: if you think impeachment is a nonpolitical event, you are wrong. there are court hearings in south carolina. let me tell you about the first one i ever had. i represented a guy for speeding. we went to the magistrate. we had a trial. and the magistrate was the highway patrol officer's uncle. that didn't go well. so what i am trying to say is, at the end of the day, the senate should be letting the house know that if you are going to continue this kind of process and it results in articles of impeachment, we do not consider this, in my view -- i consider it to be out of bounds with what we've done in the past. void of basic due process. we're not telling the house, you
can't impeach the president. what we're telling the house, 41 of us, that there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. and let me tell you about being a juror. i sat there for five weeks in the senate, and a juror made a motion to dismiss. in a court of law, juries can't get up and say, i want to dismiss the case. so this is one part legal and two part politics. what i'm trying to tell republicans out there, that it is ok for the republican party to insist that donald trump be treated fairly. a lot of senators are going to tell you, since i may be a juror, i don't want to comment on substance. but i'm hoping we can get most republicans to comment on the idea that the impeachment proceedings, as currently constituted in the house, are unfair and dangerous.
reporter: should house republicans use closed door depositions during the clinton impeachment, why was it ok but not now? senator graham: in october, 1998, we authorized impeachment as the body with 31 members saying, do an inquiry. some were behind closed doors. but the inquiry itself became very public. we had the starr hearing to start it off with. but the president participated in a very meaningful way. so what's missing here is the house authorizing this inquiry, what's missing here is the 47 republicans you talked about that are participating feel like it's not a fair process they can't participate in a way that's meaningful. reporter: senator, if someone had tried to interfere with the house impeachment process in the would under clinton, how you have reacted? senator graham: i think you would be beating the shit out of us. i think if a republican did to a
democrat what you are doing, you would be all over me. and i think it says a lot about people in your business, with all due respect. i can be confident if we had an intel committee inquiry involving a democratic president where we selected the leaked stuff, you would be calling us every kind of bad name and we would deserve it. what i am saying is, there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it and this is a dangerous way to do it. we'll let you both. reporter: just quickly right now. you are focusing a lot on the process. democrats are being clear they want to release the transcripts. did the white house change its message? senator graham: so here's what i'm saying. what they're doing is selectively leaking information to drive the president's poll numbers down and to drive the momentum for impeachment up. everything coming out of this star chamber process is being leaked by democrats. they said -- you heard bill taylor, i was breathless. well, the point is, you don't
know what bill taylor was asked. we don't know if he was cross-examined and what unfolded. so what you have here is a hearing, a process that is to me not sufficient for due process. it's being used in a politically dangerous fashion. if you open up one of these things in the future against a democrat, and we selectively leaked things and we shut out the democratic president from having a chance to participate, please use my words against us. reporter: thank you, senator. i wanted to follow up a little bit more on the lunch and in general, the reaction you have gotten from the white house and the president himself. what did -- can you tell us a about what would he like you to do? is he supportive of this effort? does he talk about being more aggressive on his behalf? and then, have you heard from him over the last 10 days or so that the witnesses have been coming out about his frustration? senator graham: yes. he was in a good mood. he appreciated the lunch. he would like the process to be
exposed for being basically unfair. he keeps telling us he did nothing wrong. he keeps telling me that the phone call was perfect. saying, mr. president, the phone call was ok with me. he feels like it never stops. that he's been in office, what, three years now, and every time he turns around there's another reason that his family, his friends -- he's got to pay legal bills, and that he feels like he doesn't have a real fair chance of being president of the united states. he thought it would be over with mueller. and here's what i would say. i don't know what's going to happen in terms of ukraine. i have got my own view about the letter. i'm not here to tell you that donald trump's done nothing wrong. i'm not here to tell you anything other than that the way they're going about it is really dangerous for the country, and we need to change course while we can in the house because
what's happening in the house, in my view and the view of at least 41 republicans, is not acceptable. thank you. >> we are making it easy for you to follow the impeachment inquiry on c-span.org. search all of c-span's coverage for the video on demand of all of the congressional briefings and hearings, as well as the administration's response during the impeachment inquiry process. log onto to our impeachment inquiry webpage at c-span.org/impeachment. you're fast and easy way to watch c-span's unfiltered coverage anytime. n journal"s "washingto live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, a black lives matter activist and a former maryland governor
discussed criminal justice reform. analyst discusses cyber threats and disinformation campaigns targeting the 2020 elections. be sure to watch c-span's "w at 7:00n journal" live eastern this morning. funeral services for maryland congressman elijah cummings, who died last week are being held today at new psalmist baptist church. we will have more coverage at 10:00 eastern time. the casket of the late congressman arrived at the u.s. capitol yesterday for a ceremony before lying in state. leadership from both the house and senate made remarks, including nancy pelosi, chuck schumer and mitch mcconnell.