Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Republicans struggle to coalesce behind an impeachment strategy Paul’s demand to out whistleblower rankles GOP colleagues Graham says he won’t read the Trump impeachment transcripts MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday pushed back against allegations that the White House committed a quid pro quo in its dealings with Ukraine, saying that Trump administration’s policy goals related to the nation were “incoherent” and that officials didn’t seem capable of taking that step.
Graham made the comments while again dismissing revised testimony from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, in which he acknowledged that Trump’s dealings with Ukrainian officials amounted to a quid pro quo.
“The whole process is a joke. The whole idea that there’s a quid pro quo based on somebody changing their testimony presuming there was,” Graham told reporters, adding that he had no plans of reading the transcript of Sondland’s testimony, which was released on Tuesday.
“This is a political vendetta,” Graham added. “What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward Ukraine. It was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to; they seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo.”
“The whole process is a joke. ….You [media] just pick things you like. Ya’ll hate this guy [Trump]. Ya’ll want to get him impeached. I’m not buying into Schiff running a legitimate operation over there. …This is a political vendetta.” — @LindseyGrahamSC pic.twitter.com/RprXX4GHVJ
— Kevin Bishop (@KevinDBishop) November 6, 2019
Multiple House committees have heard from numerous former and current Trump administration officials as part of an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Trump urged the leader of Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats give Warren’s ‘Medicare for All’ plan the cold shoulder Senate Republicans struggle to coalesce behind an impeachment strategy Sanders team accuses media of ignoring ‘surge’ in polls MORE, who is running for president, and the 2016 election.
According to transcripts released Tuesday, Sondland testified that he recalled a September meeting with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he conditioned military aid on a public statement from the Ukrainian government regarding the investigations.
The statements revised Oct. 17 testimony Sondland gave in which he said that he had no knowledge of Trump tying military aid to Ukraine opening investigations.
“After a large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland said.
Graham has repeatedly dismissed the significance of Sondland’s testimony in the day since it was released. He added to reporters Wednesday that Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerSondland changes quid pro quo story Overnight Defense: Top diplomat changes testimony to indicate quid pro quo | Dem offers measure on Turkish human rights abuses in Syria | Warren offers plan to address veteran suicide rates Graham says he won’t read the Trump impeachment transcripts MORE, the former special envoy to Ukraine, has denied that a quid pro quo took place. The House also released transcripts from Volker’s testimony earlier this week.
“You just pick things you like,” Graham said, apparently referencing the media. “Y’all hate this guy, you want to get him impeached. I’m not buying into [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSondland changes quid pro quo story Republicans consider putting Jordan, Meadows on Intelligence for impeachment Two more White House officials skip impeachment depositions MORE (D-Calif.)] running a legitimate operation over there.”
Graham, a vocal Trump supporter, said Tuesday that it was unclear to him if a quid pro quo qualified as an impeachable offense, saying that “we put conditions on aid all the time.” But he acknowledged that tying money to investigations to help someone “politically” would be “completely out of bounds.”
While Graham has consistently criticized the House Democrats’ handling of the investigation, the South Carolina senator has said that he’d be be open-minded to impeachment if there is evidence of a crime.
“If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing,” he said on “Axios on HBO” last month.