Resurfaced Video Shows Lindsey Graham Arguing for Witnesses to Testify at Bill Clinton Impeachment Trial

On Monday evening, a video of Senator Lindsey Graham calling for witnesses in then-President Bill Clinton's impeachment resurfaced on Twitter, differing greatly from comments made in 2019 about President Donald Trump's impeachment.

— Windsor Mann (@WindsorMann) January 7, 2020

In a C-SPAN interview from January 1999, Graham, a South Carolina representative at the time, spoke about the reasons he wanted witnesses in Clinton's impeachment. "The whole point that we're trying to make is that in every trial that there's ever been in the Senate, regarding impeachment, witnesses were called," he told C-SPAN. At the time, Graham said that if the Senate didn't "get to call meaningful witnesses" that "you're basically changing impeachment."

Graham also warned against going forward with a trial without witnesses. "What I'm saying about witnesses is that if you take them off the table in the Senate, the next Judiciary Committee, the next independent counsel ought to do everything, because they may lose the chance to present their case," he said. "That would be bad for impeachment law. That would be against precedent, and I hope that doesn't happen here."

Graham also stated that Clinton's innocence or guilt could not be found without witness testimony. Clinton's articles of impeachment accused him of perjury and obstruction of justice, providing false and misleading evidence about the nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and trying to tamper with witness testimony. "I want to leave behind a clear record that the president committed perjury. He's saying vigorously he's innocent. I want to put a vigorous case on that he's guilty for the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of the truth, if nothing else," Graham said.

The congressman also noted that the Senate Judiciary Committee could not get a real sense of Clinton's case without witnesses. Graham also said that obstruction of justice cases cannot properly be understood "until you have the people involved in the middle of it."

Graham said that witnesses make impeachment cases clearer. "This is not about personal behavior, and, without witnesses, that doesn't come out," he said. "You can have three days of lawyers talking to each other on both sides, 16 hours of question, and basically bore everybody to death, talk everybody to death; but when you have a witness who was there, who was engaged in it, who was in the middle of it telling you about what they were doing and why, that's a totally different case, and it's the difference between getting the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

The clip ends with Graham saying that witnesses make or break a hearing. "It's the difference to determine whether this is about criminal misconduct or some tawdry affair, justifying censure versus removal," he told C-SPAN.

In a December 2019 interview with Face the Nation, Graham had a very different take on witnesses. "I am ready to vote on the underlying articles," he said. "I don't really need to hear a lot of witnesses."

IMPEACHMENT TIMING: If the House votes to impeach @realDonaldTrump, @LindseyGrahamSC says he supports a speedy Senate trial and doesn’t need to hear from witnesses. He will vote on the underlying articles introduced in the Judiciary Committee. WATCH:

— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) December 15, 2019

A press contact for Senator Graham did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Lindsey Graham 1999
Lindsey Graham talks to reporters on December 29, 1999, after a meeting of the House Managers at the U.S. Capitol. Graham's views on impeachment have changed a lot since 1999. TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty