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Graham tells Fox News why he defends Trump but called for Clinton’s impeachment

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and among the many issues the Republican from South Carolina addressed was impeachment.

Specifically, Graham explained why he is defending President Donald Trump from calls for impeachment, while he was among those that wanted Bill Clinton removed from office when he was president.

After saying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be committing “political suicide” if she attempted to impeach Trump , Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed Graham on the difference between his stance on Clinton, a Democrat, in the late 1990s and now with a Republican in the Oval Office.

“You call all of what’s going on in Washington a political circus, but you took a different view back when you were leading the impeachment effort against Clinton back in the late ‘90s,” Wallace said in a video of the interview. “At that time, you said that any president, and you talked specifically about Clinton and (Richard) Nixon, who defied Congress when it came to subpoenas was in danger of impeachment.”

Graham attacked Clinton in 1999 for lying under oath about whether he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky, McClatchy reported.

“Question: Why is it an impeachable offense for Clinton or Nixon back then to ignore congressional subpoenas, but it’s OK for President Trump to do now?” Wallace asked of Graham.

Graham answered that the circumstances are different and that Trump complied with the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The Mueller investigation was a special counsel appointed to find out if the president committed a crime, if he colluded with the Russians, if he obstructed justice,” Graham said, video shows. “The president gave 1.4 million documents to Mueller. Everybody around the president was allowed to testify. He never claimed executive privilege. He complied, no cover-up, worked with Mueller. Mueller’s the final word on this for me.

“So if Clinton had stiffed Ken Starr, that’s different,” Graham said.

At one point in the interview, Graham flatly said, “There’s no reason to impeach the president.”

South Carolina’s senior senator went on to say Democrats in the House of Representatives are “trying to destroy the president and his family,” in the Fox News interview.

Graham was trending on Twitter last week when he came to the defense of Trump’s family, advising Donald Trump Jr. to use his Fifth Amendment right to avoid answering questions from Congress after the president’s eldest son was subpenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, The State reported. #LindseyGrahamResign began trending after that statement, according to the newspaper.

In 1999, Graham said, “Nixon made himself vulnerable to impeachment when he refused to comply with congressional subpoenas, effectively taking away Congress’ ability to conduct oversight,” McClatchy reported.

Despite these attacks, Graham advised the president to work with Democrats — to “help the country.”

During the Fox News interview with Wallace, Graham said Trump should not let impeachment talk stop him from governing.

“From President Trump’s point of view, I disagree with the idea that you can’t work with them while they’re doing things like this. You have to work with them,” video shows Graham saying to Wallace, before addressing Trump directly. “You can’t control, Mr. President, what the Democrats do, but you can control what you do. You need to lead this country to better bridges and roads and lower prescription drug prices. If they say no to you, that will help you, if they say yes and work with you that will help the country.”

Before leaving the interview, Wallace got Graham to weigh in on issues concerning the president’s actions, or potential moves, regarding Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Graham suggested strategy for Trump for dealing with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. He then offered criticism and praise for the president’s recent moves in the Middle East, where U.S. troops have been sent and arms have been sold to foreign nations.

“I’ve got a real problem with going back to business as usual with Saudi Arabia,” Graham said in the interview. “... I don’t support the arms sales now. I do support American troops going into the (Middle East) in large numbers to deter Iran.”

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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