Senate Judiciary Chairman on Impeachment: ‘I’ve Written the Whole Process Off’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he won’t read any newly released transcripts from closed-door testimony given by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.

The two testified to House lawmakers in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

“I’ve written the whole process off … I think this is a bunch of [nonsense],” said Graham (R-S.C.) to reporters.

The transcripts revealed that Sondland revised prior testimony to reflect that he told a top Ukrainian official that U.S. aid would not result unless Kyiv issues a statement on corruption.

Graham said of Sondland’s revised testimony, it’s “his opinion,” Fox News reported.

“This, to me, is a manufactured issue created by some unknown whistleblower who needs to be known, and the phone call is the basis for the impeachment allegation,” the South Carolina senator explained. “I don’t think the president did anything wrong.”

Graham then said that the entire process was off from the get-go.

“You shouldn’t have an impeachment inquiry that was started by an anonymous allegation,” Graham added to Fox News. “Whistleblower statutes are designed to protect people from being fired, who report misconduct or corruption. They’re not designed to shield the person from being challenged in terms of accusation. So the whistleblower statutes [are] being used unfairly.”

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland poses ahead of a meeting at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 4, 2019. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

He added, “Their biases have to be known if they have any.”

Following the release of the transcripts on Tuesday, the White House said there is very little evidence to impeach President Trump.

In a statement from the White House, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought. Ambassador Sondland squarely states that he ‘did not know, (and still does not know) when, why, or by whom the aid was suspended.’ He also said he ‘presumed’ there was a link to the aid—but cannot identify any solid source for that assumption.”

She added: “By contrast, Volker’s testimony confirms there could not have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know about the military aid hold at the time. No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly designed to influence the narrative, change the fact that the president has done nothing wrong.”

When the two transcripts were released, a joint statement from House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and acting House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) was released, saying it shows the Trump administration’s use of quid pro quo in the incident.

Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Committee, arrives at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 8, 2019. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“The testimony of Ambassadors Volker and Sondland shows the progression of efforts by the president and his agent, Rudy Giuliani, to use the State Department to press Ukraine to announce investigations beneficial to the president’s personal and political interests,” the statement said.

Democrats have alleged that Trump used his office to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the business dealings former Vice President Joe Biden and Hunter Biden, his son.

Trump has vociferously denied the allegations, saying they are a continuation of the Russian election collusion theory and are nothing more than a “witch hunt.” He also described a July 25 phone call, the transcript of which was released by the White House after the September announcement on an inquiry to impeach Trump, as fine.