Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made it very clear he believes Democrats are pursuing impeachment against President Donald Trump because the president decided to exercise his legal rights. Specifically, Graham cited Trump's use of executive privilege and the desire for the courts to decide whether or not key administration officials, like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, can be subpoenaed to testify as part of the Democrats' impeachment process.
On Fox News' "Sunday Morning Future," Graham said he believes Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken "a wrecking ball to the Constitution." He cited the impeachment process and her failure to hand over articles of impeachment to the Senate as a prime example.
"This is the latest in a series of constitutional train wrecks orchestrated by Nancy Pelosi. During the impeachment process, the president was not allowed to have counsel present during the Intel Committee. He could not call witnesses on his behalf," he explained. "He could not confront his accuser and now that he's been charged with two articles of impeachment, Nancy Pelosi is denying the president his day in the court in the Senate and she's actually trying to tell Mitch McConnell how to run the Senate."
One of the issues Graham has with Pelosi is her attempt at trying to run the impeachment trial once the articles are sent to the Senate.
"She's trampling on the separation of powers. It's the Senate's job to dispose of impeachment articles once passed by the House," he said. "It's not Nancy Pelosi's job. When it comes to Trump, the rules don't matter to Democrats and that's dangerous and sad."
The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman believes the Democrats decided to pursue impeaching President Trump specifically because he fought Congressional subpoenas by invoking executive privilege. Graham called the Democrats' move a form of "extortion."
"What she's trying to do is to get Mitch McConnell to bend to her will to shape the trial. Can you imagine if the roles were reversed?" he asked. "...Democrats hate him so much. They don't love anything Constitutional anymore. All the rules have been thrown in a ditch to get Trump from the way they impeached him to now denying his day in court."
Graham said Pelosi will eventually send the articles because public opinion is stacked against the Democrats.
"You got the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer conspiring with the Speaker of the House basically to insist upon calling witnesses that deny. The president is invoking executive privilege around Mulvaney and John Bolton and others," he said. "They impeached this president because he chose to go to court. The second article of impeachment is obstruction of Congress. The president has claimed executive privilege and instead of allowing the president to exercise his legal rights, they've impeached him because he wanted to go to court. Can you imagine what would've happened if we'd done this to a Democrat? That we impeach a Democrat because they wanted to go to court?
He had a stark warning for any senator who calls for additional witnesses to testify during the trial.
"To any senator who votes to compel the testimony of John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney before the president can have his day in court exercising executive privilege before the courts – the court's available to every American, including Donald Trump – so, if you call these witnesses who work for the president after he's invoked executive privilege, if you deny him his day in court, then you're abusing the constitutional rights of Donald Trump as president and you're putting the entire presidency at risk," Graham said harshly. "I can't imagine any senator doing this to the presidency."
According to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Democrats put "an artificial time limit" on Trump's executive privilege.
"They put an artificial time limit and said,'If you don't allow these witnesses to come to the House at a time certain we're going to impeach you.' They impeached him for exercising his legal rights," he explained. "I hope senators will not do the same thing. Hope the senators will not vote to compel witnesses before the court determines whether or not there's executive privilege."
Graham said he believes House impeachment managers will argue their case based on established testimony and findings, Democrats will want to call more witnesses and the vote will fall along party lines, with Republicans saying no.