Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

Lindsey Graham Has a Bizarre Warning About Opening “Pandora’s Box” With Impeachment Witnesses

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Senator Lindsey Graham has made a number of Fox News appearances recently to argue against the second impeachment of Donald Trump. This week, he spoke to former Congressman/current Fox correspondent/bad haircut enthusiast Trey Gowdy to explain why it would be a bad idea for Democrats to try to call witnesses for the Senate trial, which is scheduled to start next week.

The thing is, what Graham thinks is a bad idea actually sounds pretty great.

“But if you open up a can of worms,” he said, referring to calling witnesses, “we want the FBI to come in and tell us about how people actually pre-planned these attacks, and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol. You open up a Pandora’s Box if you call one witness.”

I mean … yes? That should happen? Let’s open that box, it sounds awesome.

The argument I believe Graham is making has also been repeated by Sean Hannity and other rightwing media figures. They’re saying that if the riot on the Capitol was pre-planned, then it couldn’t have been instigated by Donald Trump. This is ridiculous.

It’s very clear that the riot was pre-planned. I don’t think anyone is debating this. Conspiracy theorists and white nationalists and other diehard Trump supporters were planning this for at least weeks, we know this. People travelled across state lines, across the country, armed, wearing tactical gear, with explosives. It wasn’t Trump’s words on that specific day that incited them.

Or at least, not just that day. That speech—in which he repeatedly told his supporters there was illegal activity happening in the Capitol and that they needed to “fight”–certainly didn’t help but the real issue is the weeks and months of telling his supporters that Democrats had stolen the election and that they needed to rise up and stop them. Trump had specifically encouraged his followers to gather on January 6th, and Trump allies were involved with the event planning.

At least one insurrectionist has argued in his court filings that he felt he was invited to riot by Trump himself via his tweets about fraud. The Senate should definitely call witnesses like that and they should absolutely look into “what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol.” Why were they so unprepared for what happened? Why were they not fully staffed and why were offers of additional security reportedly turned down? Why were Capitol police officers posing for selfies with and giving directions to rioters? Why were so many former and off-duty police officers and veterans and current members of the military part of the riot?

Lindsey Graham and others seem to think that we don’t want the answers to these questions, or that they will somehow exonerate Trump because they’ll expand the scope of the trial beyond just that one speech. But no one has said that that speech was the only problem! Literally no one except them.

Not even Trump’s lawyers are trying to ignore his own influence to that degree. They’re just trying to frame this as a free speech issue—which it isn’t. They’re also claiming that because there is “insufficient evidence” to prove whether Trump’s claims about election fraud and the need to fight were accurate or not, Trump “therefore denies they were false.” Super convincing!

So sure, Lindsey Graham, let’s open that Pandora’s Box of evidence. That sounds like a bet worth taking.

(image: Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.