Graham calls Trump-Ukraine policy 'incoherent': Admin seems 'incapable of forming quid pro quo'

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenator-jurors who may not be impartial? Remove them for cause Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa What to watch for as Senate organizes impeachment on day one MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday pushed back against allegations that the White House committed a quid pro quo in its dealings with Ukraine, saying that Trump administration's policy goals related to the nation were "incoherent" and that officials didn't seem capable of taking that step.

Graham made the comments while again dismissing revised testimony from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, in which he acknowledged that Trump's dealings with Ukrainian officials amounted to a quid pro quo.  


"The whole process is a joke. The whole idea that there’s a quid pro quo based on somebody changing their testimony presuming there was," Graham told reporters, adding that he had no plans of reading the transcript of Sondland's testimony, which was released on Tuesday.

"This is a political vendetta," Graham added. "What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward Ukraine. It was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to; they seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo."

Multiple House committees have heard from numerous former and current Trump administration officials as part of an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Trump urged the leader of Ukraine to open investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' MORE, who is running for president, and the 2016 election.  

According to transcripts released Tuesday, Sondland testified that he recalled a September meeting with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he conditioned military aid on a public statement from the Ukrainian government regarding the investigations. 

The statements revised Oct. 17 testimony Sondland gave in which he said that he had no knowledge of Trump tying military aid to Ukraine opening investigations. 

“After a large meeting, I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak, where I said that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks,” Sondland said.

Graham has repeatedly dismissed the significance of Sondland's testimony in the day since it was released. He added to reporters Wednesday that Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid GOP chairmen seek interview with Obama officials as part of Biden-Ukraine probe Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war MORE, the former special envoy to Ukraine, has denied that a quid pro quo took place. The House also released transcripts from Volker's testimony earlier this week. 

"You just pick things you like," Graham said, apparently referencing the media. "Y’all hate this guy, you want to get him impeached. I’m not buying into [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial The Memo: Day One shows conflicting narratives on impeachment MORE (D-Calif.)] running a legitimate operation over there."

Graham, a vocal Trump supporter, said Tuesday that it was unclear to him if a quid pro quo qualified as an impeachable offense, saying that “we put conditions on aid all the time." But he acknowledged that tying money to investigations to help someone "politically" would be "completely out of bounds.”

While Graham has consistently criticized the House Democrats' handling of the investigation, the South Carolina senator has said that he'd be be open-minded to impeachment if there is evidence of a crime. 

"If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing," he said on "Axios on HBO" last month.