Lindsey Graham ‘Can’t Think of One Thing’ Trump Did to Obstruct Justice
Sen. Lindsey Graham was on Face the Nation Sunday morning to pitch a familiar line: President Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice all failed, therefore he is in the clear.
It’s an interesting line for a lawyer, who should know that even failed efforts to obstruct justice still usually count as a crime. After all, if someone fails to murder you, he will still be charged with attempted murder.
But that is the angle Graham has chosen, whether to protect his re-election effort next year or just so he’ll keep getting invited to play rounds at Trump National.
Graham’s interesting take on what constitutes obstruction of justice by a president came after Margaret Brennan asked him what he intends to focus on during an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General Bill Barr. “He turned over a million documents to the special council counsel, almost everybody around him testified,” Graham said. “I can’t think of one thing the President Trump did to stop Mueller from doing his job.”
Brennan pushed back, noting that just for starters, Graham’s stance contradicts sworn testimony in the Mueller report that Trump pressured then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to order the Justice Department to fire Robert Mueller and end the investigation.
Graham’s response was that Trump was just blowing smoke, and that looking into every occasion when a president “pop[s] off at staff” and tries to get underlings “to do something that is maybe crazy, then we won’t have any presidents.”
Brennan tried again: “Was Don McGahn being pressured to fire the special counsel?” Graham responded that he didn’t care, because Trump “didn’t do anything.” But pressuring McGahn is very much doing something!
Graham’s casual attitude aside, the Mueller report is very clear that it does not exonerate Trump on charges that he tried to obstruct justice. Mueller and his team also very clearly laid out multiple occasions when Trump attempted to obstruct justice. The fact that the special counsel did not feel Trump’s conduct met the bar for an indictment, possibly because of Justice Department restrictions on indicting sitting presidents, is in no way an exoneration.
Also note Graham’s weasel wording that “almost everybody” around the president testified to Mueller. There were multiple people around him who did not, particularly Trump himself, who refused to sit with the special counsel. Instead, his team submitted very lawyerly answers to a list of questions in which Trump claimed he “could not recall” certain events more than 30 times. Without the chance to cross-examine him on his recollections, the investigation is very much not complete.
Watch the clip up top, via CBS News.