Trump allies mull how to quickly quash impeachment articles

President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE’s biggest allies in the Senate are looking to quickly quash articles of impeachment that the Democratic-controlled House might pass in the coming months. 

The possible GOP strategy would swiftly dismiss impeachment following an extensive House inquiry that is investigating whether Trump tried to leverage aid to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-S.C.) said on Wednesday he will introduce a resolution condemning the House process, and he’s urging the Senate to quickly dismiss any articles of impeachment instead of holding a weeks-long trial.

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“In my view, if this process continues, there’s not a formal inquiry … then that would be illegitimate,” Graham said, referring to the House’s reluctance to hold a formal impeachment inquiry vote.

Republicans, who believe it is likely the House will impeach Trump, are weighing what is best for their party: a rapid dismissal of impeachment or a vote to acquit Trump after a trial. Sixty-seven votes are needed to convict a president. 

Graham first floated the idea of discarding articles of impeachment during an interview this week with Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityGraham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' Graham says Schiff should be a witness in Trump impeachment trial Lindsey Graham vows to not watch 'un-American' Trump impeachment hearings MORE, where he argued the Senate should go “on record condemning the House.”

“Here’s the point of the resolution: Any impeachment vote based on this process, to me, is illegitimate, is unconstitutional, and should be dismissed in the Senate without a trial,” Graham said.

The push to promptly dismiss any articles sent by the House comes as Republicans have homed in on the process being used by House Democrats. The chamber is weeks into their impeachment inquiry, which is being overseen by the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight and Reform committees.

The closed-door sessions have sparked a constant churn of headline-grabbing news. But Republicans have fumed as House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump knocks testimony from 'Never Trumpers' at Louisiana rally Jordan calls Pelosi accusing Trump of bribery 'ridiculous' USMCA deal close, but not 'imminent,' Democrats say MORE (D-Calif.) has refused to hold an inquiry vote — something she says isn’t required by the rules. House Republicans opted to vote for an impeachment inquiry during their investigation of President Clinton.

Republicans have noted repeatedly that the House probe has been behind closed doors and most members are unable to sit in on the ongoing depositions. Frustrated House Republicans stormed a closed-door hearing Wednesday to protest the Democrats’ probe, delaying the proceedings and triggering a fresh round of partisan finger-pointing. 

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Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), another vocal ally of Trump’s, threw his support behind Graham’s idea and compared the House impeachment inquiry process to how an investigation would be run in Russia.

“I would absolutely support that given the way this is being conspired in the House,” Perdue said. “What we’re getting is a show trial right now, so when it comes to the Senate, the Senate has an opportunity, I think, to push back on that.”

Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump knocks testimony from 'Never Trumpers' at Louisiana rally Jordan calls Pelosi accusing Trump of bribery 'ridiculous' Giuliani under investigation for alleged campaign finance, lobbying breaches: report MORE, Trump’s personal lawyer, has also backed the Senate dismissing any articles of impeachment, telling The Hill earlier this month that it would be “horrible” if the Senate held a trial. 

“It would probably be dismissed immediately,” he said. 

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden MORE (R-N.D.) said it isn’t clear to him if senators can bring up the vote but “if the articles don’t come up with any evidence, I suppose we could do that.”

“I could see a scenario where there’s no evidence to even support what they’ve done, and perhaps at that point a motion to dismiss would be in order and we do,” he added.

During former President Clinton’s impeachment trial, Graham — then a House member who served as a floor manager — spoke out against a motion to dismiss that was offered by then-Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). Byrd’s motion ultimately failed.

“To dismiss an impeachment trial under these facts and under these circumstances would be unbelievable, in my opinion, and do a lot of damage to the law and to the ultimate decision this body has to make whether or not Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBill Clinton advises Trump to ignore impeachment: 'You got hired to do a job' GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Harris lead Trump in Georgia: Poll MORE should be our president. And as I understand the general nature of the law, the facts and the law break our way for this motion,” Graham said, according to a transcript of the deliberations.

Under the Senate’s rules governing impeachment, any senator can make a motion and any motion, except a motion to adjourn, will be made in writing. House managers or the president’s team, according to the same rules, can also direct “all motions, objections, requests, or applications” to the presiding officer, who would be Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. 

Motions made during the trial would need a majority to pass. With 53 Senate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (R-Ky.) could only afford to lose two GOP senators. Normally for simple majority votes in the Senate, he can lose three because Vice President Pence is able to break a tie when he presides over the chamber.

A Senate GOP leadership aide noted in a memo about the Senate’s impeachment rules that a motion to dismiss would be in order. 

“Please note that a motion to dismiss the articles is in order under impeachment rules, and a majority vote on the motion to dismiss occurred during the impeachment trial of President Clinton (following the opening arguments and a limited period of questioning by members of the Senate),” the aide wrote.

GOP senators have discussed impeachment during closed-door caucus lunches over the past two weeks. McConnell and staff gave a PowerPoint presentation last week where the possibility of dismissing any articles of impeachment came up as a question.

But the chatter about trying to dismiss any articles of impeachment is at odds with signals from leadership officials, who have increasingly said they expect the chamber to hold a trial if the House passes articles of impeachment.

“I think a trial is more likely,” said Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Alcohol industry races to save tax break by year-end deadline MORE (R-Mo.), a member of leadership, when asked about Graham’s remarks.

He added that it would be up to Roberts to determine if a motion could be voted on at any point. 

“In the last trial Sen. Byrd somehow made the motion and I don’t understand how he did because I would expect it would more likely come from the people presenting the case,” Blunt added.

McConnell, after last week’s closed-door briefing, shot down a question from a reporter about if his Facebook ads positioning himself as an impeachment roadblock meant there wouldn’t be a Senate trial. 

“Under the impeachment rules of the Senate, we’ll take the matter up. The chief justice will be in the chair ... We intend to do our constitutional responsibility,” McConnell said.

Asked this week if he would try to dismiss the articles of impeachment, McConnell said that he won’t have “ball control” during an impeachment trial.

“It won’t be up to me. Unlike other procedures in the Senate, the majority leader does not really have ball control here. ... I don’t see anybody in all of this, myself or others, who would be able to control the process. At some point, it ends,” he said.

Pressed if he would support a quick dismissal, McConnell demurred, arguing that “there are all kinds of potentials.”

Alexander Bolton contributed.