Lindsey Graham is a lawyer – in addition to being the senior senator from South Carolina. Which means he should know way better than what he is doing in advance of former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Graham personally recommended South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers to Trump as the ex-President was searching for lawyers willing and able to represent him in the coming trial. Talking to reporters on Thursday, Graham called Bowers the “anchor” of Trump’s now-forming legal team, adding: “I’ve known Butch for a long time, solid guy. And I think, you know, over time, they’ll put the team together.”
So, let’s just hit the “pause” button for a minute and go through what we now know.
Graham will be one of the 100 jurors in the impeachment trial argued in front of the Senate in the coming days. As such, he will play a critical role in deciding whether Trump should be convicted of incitement of the crowd gathered at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, DC on January 6 – a crowd that went on to violently storm the US Capitol.
And yet, despite that role, Graham is also doing double duty as an adviser to the ex-President about who should be on the legal team tasked with making the case to Graham and his colleagues.
Uh, what? This feels wrong?
Look, I know that a Senate impeachment trial isn’t the same thing as a trial in the court of law where what Graham is doing simply can’t be done. But wouldn’t you think that Graham would be interested in maintaining a semblance of neutrality or impartiality given the fact that we are talking about whether to convict a former president?
Yes, yes you would.
Unless, of course, you are talking about Graham, who, after serving as one of Trump’s most vocal critics during the 2016 primary fight, has, er, evolved into one of his staunchest allies. And who, despite occasionally saying Trump has gone too far, always seems to come back to his side.
Remember that it was Graham who, in the hours following the January 6 riot, took to the Senate floor to declare that his long bromance with Trump was over.
“Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey,” Graham said. “I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it. From my point of view he’s … been a consequential president. But today, first thing you’ll see. All I can say, is count me out, enough is enough.”
He hated for the relationship to end so much, in fact, that he didn’t end it at all. Less than a week after his “count me out” comments, Graham was flying on Air Force One with Trump to inspect the southern border wall. And as the House prepared to impeach Trump for a second time, Graham released a statement warning that “supporting the impeachment of President Trump under these circumstances will do great damage to the institutions of government and could invite further violence at a time the President is calling for calm.”
And, yes, he was serious.
On one hand, Graham’s willingness to advise a former president who he is also constitutionally tasked with sitting in judgment of is just more of the same for Graham. On the other, it’s incredibly disappointing that he seems to prioritize his friendship with Trump over his duties and responsibilities as a senator.