Senate

Graham assures Trump of acquittal after rocky start to trial

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of former President Trump’s closest Senate allies, reassured Trump Tuesday evening that he will be acquitted on a charge of inciting an insurrection, even though his lawyers received bad reviews after opening arguments. 

“I think his team will do better, can do better,” Graham told reporters, summarizing his conversation with Trump. “I reinforced to the president, the case is over. It’s just a matter of getting the final verdict now.”

Graham made his confident prediction after 44 Republican senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), voted against proceeding with a trial that Trump’s defense team argued was unconstitutional. 

Graham said Trump didn’t appear to be frustrated with the opening arguments, even though CNN reported Tuesday that he was close to screaming at the television while watching his lawyer Bruce Castor deliver a meandering opening statement.

“Well, not, no, not particularly,” Graham said when asked if he sensed frustration on the part of the former commander in chief. “We mostly talked about the vote, and I said we had 44 people saying it’s not constitutional.”

A key development Tuesday was Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) vote to proceed with the trial after voting two weeks ago in support of a motion made by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) declaring the trial unconstitutional.

Cassidy later criticized Trump’s defense team as “disorganized” and “unfocused.”

“It was disorganized, random, had nothing — they talked about many things, but they didn’t talk about the issue at hand,” he said. 

Graham, however, predicted that not all of the GOP senators who voted to proceed with the trial will also vote at the end of the trial to convict Trump, which — if successful — would set up a subsequent vote to bar him from holding future office.

“I think the vote for not guilty will probably grow beyond 44,” he said.

“I respect Bill. He’s a really good senator. He’s done a great job up here,” he added when asked about the backlash from Trump supporters against Cassidy’s vote. 

“People are emotional about President Trump,” he noted. “I’m sure Bill will be fine. He will vote his conscience at the end of the day. Let’s just see how he votes when it’s all said and done.”

Tags Bill Cassidy Donald Trump Impeachment impeachment trial Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Senate trial Trump impeachment

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