Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a letter Sunday to hold a vote to dismiss the impeachment article against President Donald Trump once the Senate receives it, arguing that holding an impeachment trial against a former president is “as unwise as it is unconstitutional.”
Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina who just secured his fourth term in office, sent his request to Schumer as the minority leader is poised to take majority leadership of the Senate once Georgia’s two Democrat senators-elect are sworn into office, likely this week.
Graham described the Senate Democrats’ pursuit to hold a trial against Trump as “vengeance and political retaliation,” telling Schumer “proceeding with the spectacle of the impeachment of a former President is as unwise as it is unconstitutional”:
My letter to Democratic Leader Schumer.
The Senate should vote to dismiss the article of impeachment once it is received in the Senate. We will be delaying indefinitely, if not forever, the healing of this great Nation if we do otherwise. pic.twitter.com/fjVcf7iVPf
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 17, 2021
Schumer has insisted on holding a trial against Trump after the House impeached the president on the grounds that he incited an insurrection, referring to the riot that occurred at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month that left five people dead.
Graham’s objection to moving forward with impeachment proceedings comes after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) also put out a statement asserting that the Senate “lacks the constitutional authority” to hold and impeachment trial for someone who is no longer in office.
Graham wrote that both “the plain text and the evident purpose of Congress’ constitutional impeachment power make manifestly clear that the Congress is without the constitutional power to impeach a president, once he has left office,” arguing that the move would set an unwanted precedent.
While Graham, Cotton, and other Trump allies oppose impeachment proceedings, the current Senate majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has not commented on the constitutionality of the process, and moreover, has publicly said he is undecided on how he would vote in the trial.
The Senate, which will be split between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris breaking any tied votes, would need a two-thirds supermajority to vote to convict Trump, meaning 17 Republicans would need to vote in line with Democrats, assuming all Democrats vote in favor of convicting Trump.
Graham condemned the attack on the Capitol but declared impeachment proceedings counterproductive to “national healing.”
“Such a gratuitous, meaningless effort by the Senate of the United States is neither worthy of our great institution, nor a service to the Nation and the American people,” Graham wrote. “It will incite further division.”
Concluding his letter, Graham said the Senate should vote to dismiss the impeachment article, warning that “history will judge us harshly, as it should, if we do not rise to the occasion of this historic moment in our history.”
The impeachment proceedings could begin as early as Tuesday during a regular Senate meeting, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been silent on when she plans to deliver the impeachment article, leaving the timeline for the trial up in the air.
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