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Trump allies mull how to quickly quash impeachment articles

President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments 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 BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse to advance appropriations bills in June, July The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  The Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won 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 HannityCaitlyn Jenner tells Hannity friends are fleeing California because of homeless people Caitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' The Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won 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 PelosiOn The Money: Weekly jobless claims fall to 498K, hitting new post-lockdown low | House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Rural Democrats urge protections from tax increases for family farms Cheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women 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 GiulianiGiuliani lays off staffers: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Former Ukrainian prosecutor says he was fired for not investigating Hunter Biden: 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 CramerSenate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Biden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies 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 ClintonNever underestimate Joe Biden Joe Biden demonstrates public health approach will solve America's ills McAuliffe rising again in Virginia 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 McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' 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 BluntRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate GOP attorneys general group in turmoil after Jan. 6 Trump rally Senate GOP keeps symbolic earmark ban 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.