Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina have had an on-again, off-again relationship for several years, which makes it even more significant that the prominent Republican today said that if the president fires Special Counsel Robert Mueller it would “probably be an impeachable offense.”
Graham was on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show when the host recalled that in the 1990s the Senator had been a prosecutor in the House of Representative’s impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton.
Graham was asked in that light about whether firing Mueller would be an impeachable offense.
“Probably so,” said Graham, “if he did it without cause, yeah.”
“I think what the president will have done is stopped an investigation into whether or not his campaign colluded with the Russians,” added Graham, “what effect the Russians had on the 2016 campaign.”
“I can’t see it being anything other than a corrupt purpose,” said Graham.
Graham and Trump locked horns in 2015 when both were Republican candidates for the presidency. At that time, Trump even gave out Graham’s personal cell phone number after the Senator criticized him.
Sen. Lindsay Graham draws a red line for Trump.
Obstruct justice and it will be the end of Trump Presidency.
Also made sure Trump understood there are numerous Republicans that feel the same way.
— BeckyLemay (@BeckyLemay) March 18, 2018
Eventually, out of political expediency, the two resumed a relationship, which during the Congressional battle over the Trumpcare health care debate became quite close as they took to the golf course together several times.
They split again during the debate over immigration and the DACA “dreamers” act, with Graham leading a group of Senator who came up with an alternative plan that Trump then trashed as “very, very weak.”
Graham has said he personally has seen no proof that Trump was guilty of collusion with the Russians but added that to stop Mueller’s investigation “without cause, I think, would be a constitutional crisis.”
“He would be wrong, in my view,” Graham told Hewitt today, “to try to stop this investigation without cause on the Mueller side.”
This became a hot question because earlier this week Graham said he would make sure Mueller’s investigation goes forward without any political interference, and warned Trump that if he did fire the Special Counsel, it would mark “the beginning of the end of his presidency.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham manages to be decent 43% of the time. For example:https://t.co/kgeLRTwfkj
— Fogo Von Slack (@FogoVonSlack) March 19, 2018
Compared to some of the hardcore alt-right conservatives in the Senate like Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Graham is marginally less outspoken in his militancy than most, which has allowed him to act as a go-between among the various factions within his own party.
While Graham has taken issue with Trump before, his comments on Mueller put the president on notice that there would be serious consequences if he tried to derail the Russia investigation by arbitrarily firing the Special Counsel, as many expect him to do.
If that came from a Democrat, the president could ignore it, but Graham is highly respected within his own party so even for someone as willing as Trump to ignore all good advice and treat anyone with experience as his enemy, this will certainly ring loudly in his ears.
If it does not, and Trump bulls ahead doing as he wishes, Graham is the kind of Senator who is likely to keep his word, and that could be a big problem for the Trump presidency.