At Trump Impeachment Trial, Jerry Nadler Plays 1999 Video of Lindsey Graham Saying Impeachment Doesn't Require a Crime

Jerry Nadler
During Trump impeachment trial, Jerry Nadler shows 1999 video of then-Representative Lindsey Graham saying impeachment doesn't require a crime. Drew Angerer/Getty

In an effort to make their impeachment case against President Donald Trump, House Democrats, specifically Jerry Nadler of New York, used a 1999 video of Republican Lindsey Graham, which goes against his recent arguments defending Trump.

Nadler showed the video on the Senate floor on Thursday, the second day of opening arguments for the impeachment trial. In the video, then-Representative Graham can be seen calling for the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton.

"What's a high crime? How about if an important person hurts somebody of low means," Graham says in the video from 1999. "It's not very scholarly, but I think it's the truth. I think that's what they meant by high crimes. It doesn't even have to be a crime. It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people, you've committed a high crime."

Nadler showed the video because the points Graham makes in it completely contradict some of the main arguments, he and other GOP lawmakers have been using against Trump's impeachment.

"And I might say the same things as then–House manager Lindsey Graham," Nadler said prior to showing the video, "who in President Clinton's trial flatly rejected the notion that impeachable offenses are limited to violations of established law," which completely contradict his current arguments defending Trump.

While many Republicans continue to argue that the two articles of impeachment against Trump, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, which stem from accusations that he urged Ukraine officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, do not constitute a prosecutable crime, they are very similar to the ones used against Clinton in 1999.

In 1999, Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, obstruction of justice, witness-tampering and abuse of power, the last of which at the time Graham called an impeachable offense.

Regardless of the similarities between the two trials and the fact that in 1999 Graham called abuse of power a high crime, Republicans have continued to argue against Trump's impeachment.

On Wednesday, Graham said that Nadler, lead impeachment manager and Califiornia Democrats Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were "on a crusade to destroy this president."

Similarly, prior to the impeachment articles being passed in the House, Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Chabot stated that "this president isn't even accused of committing a crime. The constitution is pretty clear what constitutes an impeachable offense: treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors. It's not treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors or whatever else."

Continuing his argument against Trump's impeachment, Chabot brought up the Clinton impeachment trial and stated, "In the [Richard] Nixon and Clinton impeachment, abuse of power was a tacked-on charge—far less important in those cases than the actual high crimes charged against both of them."

For the record, Nixon was never impeached or formally charged, he resigned before a vote was taken.