Lindsey Graham: Trump firing Mueller would 'probably' be impeachable offense

Lindsey Graham: Trump firing Mueller would 'probably' be impeachable offense
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' Graham knocks South Korea over summit with North MORE (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that if President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE fired special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, it would "probably" be an impeachable offense.

Graham, a House prosecutor in the impeachment trial of former President Clinton, was asked if firing Mueller would be an impeachable offense during an interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio program.

"Probably so, if he did it without cause, yeah," Graham responded. 

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"I think what the president will have done is stopped an investigation in whether or not his campaign colluded with the Russians, what effect the Russians had on the 2016 campaign. I can’t see it being anything other than a corrupt purpose," Graham explained. 

Graham said that while he has seen no evidence of collusion between Trump associates and Russians, "to stop investigation without cause, I think, would be a constitutional crisis." 

Graham's comments came after Trump attorney John Dowd called last week for Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE to "bring an end" to Mueller's probe.

Dowd referenced the "courageous" action by Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions: DOJ concerned about suppression of free speech on college campuses Faith communities are mobilizing against Trump’s family separation policy Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lands book deal MORE to fire FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeEXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lands book deal The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly MORE over questions of bias. 

Trump, Graham said, is not without reason for being upset with the Department of Justice over its surveillance of members of his 2016 campaign. But he said Mueller should be left alone.

"He would be wrong, in my view, to try to stop this investigation without cause on the Mueller side," he said. 

Earlier this week, Graham pledged to make sure Mueller's investigation continues without any political interference, and warned that Trump firing the special counsel would herald "the beginning of the end of his presidency." 

Trump reportedly ordered for the firing of Mueller earlier on in Mueller's investigation, but withdrew after top White House lawyers threatened to resign over the matter. 

Graham’s remarks were markedly different from those of Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingRestoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash MORE (Vt.), an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

King said that it would be a “crisis” if Trump fired Mueller, but noted that he does not see it as an impeachable offense.

“High crimes and misdemeanors is the standard for impeachment, and I have a high standard for impeachment,” King told Hewitt. “I don’t think impeachment should be used to change a government you don’t like.”

“I wouldn’t say it rises to the level of an impeachable offense, but I certainly think it’s going to create a real problem,” he added.

Max Greenwood contributed 

Updated at 12:14 p.m.