Graham threatens to 'take matters in our own hands' if Pelosi doesn't send articles of impeachment to Senate

"My goal is to start this trial in the next coming days, not let Nancy Pelosi take over the Senate," Sen. Lindsey Graham said.
Image: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., takes questions during a press conference on Capitol Hill on March 25, 2019.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a news conference in Washington in March 2019.Carolyn Kaster / AP file

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By Allan Smith

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday that if the House doesn't submit articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate this week, he will seek to change the impeachment rules so the Senate can proceed to a trial without them.

Speaking on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures," Graham said: "If we don't get the articles this week, then we need to take matters in our own hands and change the rules."

"Deem them to be delivered to the Senate," he continued, adding, "My goal is to start this trial in the next coming days, not let [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi take over the Senate."

Changing such rules would require a simple 51-vote majority.

Graham's comments came as Congress readies to bring the impasse over the next steps in Trump's impeachment back to the forefront.

The House last month passed two articles of impeachment against the president, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she is waiting to see what trial process the Senate settles on before she transmits the articles. Currently, no trial can begin until the articles come through.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he wants the Senate to follow the parameters of then-President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial: an initial agreement to first hear the case and then a vote later on whether to call witnesses.

Top Senate Democrats have pushed for a single resolution that would set parameters for presenting the case and allow for calling witnesses. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he wants to call four new witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, to testify about Trump's conduct toward Ukraine.

"I don't think it's going to be indefinite, no," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on CNN's "State of the Union," referring to the hold on the articles. "I don't think that's at all the desire, motivation here. The desire is to get a commitment from the Senate that they're going to have a fair trial, fair to the president, yes, but fair to the American people."

Graham's idea isn't the only Republican proposal to break the impasse. On Thursday, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted that he will introduce a resolution Monday to change impeachment rules so the Senate can dismiss the articles.