Graham’s conduct contrasts with his insistence on listening to the evidence when it was Democratic President Bill Clinton on trial:
This time, Graham already said he would refuse to read the transcripts. Apparently, he is relying on what Trump and Fox News (but I repeat myself) tell him about the charges.
The Senator’s Oath in impeachment trials addresses the tension between the political and legal character of impeachment. The requirement of “impartial justice” means that every Senator must decide from behind the veil of ignorance -- that is, as if he or she did not know the party affiliation of the person impeached. This includes evaluating the evidence, and deciding whether the proven misconduct justifies removal from office. Senators violate their oath if they apply friendlier standards to Presidents of their own Party than to those of the opposing Party.
And speaking of the oath for senators, the one for their regular legislative duties requires all senators to swear or affirm to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” Refusing to hold the president accountable for betrayal of our national security and democratic elections (and refusing even to investigate the same) does not sound like the conduct of someone who takes that oath seriously, either.
Now, do not expect Roberts to rule on a motion to recuse nor a “mistrial” should Democrats demand one after a sham trial conducted by senators who flout their oaths. He is likely to defer to the Senate majority, which is like referring Trump’s alleged criminal conduct to Attorney General William P. Barr.
Graham is hardly alone in announcing what he thinks of the Senate, the Constitution and the impeachment rules. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) previously announced that he was engaging in “total coordination” on the trial with Trump’s lawyers. No daylight there, he promised.
One wonders how Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Martha McSally of Arizona and Joni Ernst of Iowa (with the exception of Romney, all are on the ballot in less than a year) as well as someone such as Lamar Alexander (who is retiring) feel about pulling back the curtain to reveal this is all a sham. Might they take enough offense, together with a few colleagues, to join with Senate Democrats to insist on fair Senate rules and the presentation of witnesses and evidence? You would think that any senator facing the voters would be concerned about participating in such a farce, an act of blatant disregard for their oaths.
And for all his suckuppery to Trump, Graham is only two points ahead in the latest polling against Democratic challenger Jamie Harrison. Maybe South Carolinians would like a senator they need not be embarrassed to represent them.