Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is seeing criticism from fellow House Republicans for his plan to address a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to warn that the caucus won’t cooperate with impeaching President Donald Trump.
According to multiple sources, The Hill reported that Graham had raised the plan during a closed-door caucus lunch meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 16, and the letter would warn Pelosi that Senate Republicans will not vote to remove Trump from office for the July 25 phone call.
“I’m going to ask my colleagues in the Senate, Republicans, to sign a letter to Nancy Pelosi saying we do not believe the transcript of the phone call between the president and the Ukraine is an impeachable offense,” Graham said during an interview with Fox and Friends earlier this month.
“They are about to destroy the nation for no good reason. I’ve read the transcript. I do not see anything wrong there and I want Nancy Pelosi to know that Republican senators are not going to impeach this president based on this transcript, so she can stop now before she destroys this country,” Graham added.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) was reluctant to sign the letter but said he will sign it anyway if it is as described, according to The Hill. Kennedy however alerted that proceeding with garnering signatures could serve as a distraction as well as raise questions about Republicans’ unity in the impeachment battle.
“I will sign the letter, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s necessarily a good idea,” Kennedy said. “We don’t need distractions right now.”
Kennedy also pointed out that there is a “risk” of the letter backfiring if it does not obtain sufficient signatures, and noted that certain GOP lawmakers want to learn more about the impeachment and could end up in an awkward position should Graham follow through with the letter.
“The fact that some senators may … not [sign the letter] does not indicate necessarily that they don’t support the president,” Kennedy said. “They just want to hear more … and I just don’t think that’s fair to them.”
Kennedy expressed concern over how Americans would view the letter, noting , “Some less-enlightened members of the press … will look at it and say okay this is what the vote will be among the Republicans.”
An anonymous GOP senator called Graham’s idea “one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard from Lindsey.”
“He’s trying to help but it’s going to backfire,” the senator said. “If there aren’t enough signatures the president is going to look really weak.”
Another Republican lawmaker raised a concern of the letter shifting the focus onto perceived splits within the Republican caucus—based on who did or did not sign the letter.
“There’s just no reason to begin to separate a conference that I think is very united on moving forward and doing our job in the right way,” the senator added.