Lindsey Graham warns he'll “call in the FBI” if one witness is questioned in Trump impeachment trial

Sen. Lindsey Graham issues a threat to protect Trump, warns that calling witnesses would “open up Pandora's Box”

By Jon Skolnik
February 2, 2021 10:02PM (UTC)
main article image
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, US President Donald Trump, and Sen. Mitt Romney (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call/Steve Parsons-WPA Pool/Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

In a Fox News interview on Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cautioned Democrats against calling witnesses to the stand in Donald Trump's upcoming impeachment trial, warning that the GOP will retaliate by calling in the FBI for further testimony. 

Graham said in an interview, "If you open that can of worms, we'll want the FBI to come in and tell us about how people pre-planned this attack and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol," adding, "You open up Pandora's Box if you call one witness."


Graham, who called for the prosecution of rioters to "the fullest extent of the law," still has yet to assign any blame to the former President for January's violent insurgency at the Capitol. He is just one of the forty-five Republican senators to object to the trial on constitutional grounds, since there is no precise legal precedent for convicting a former President. As Amanda Marcotte noted in Salon on Monday, the move allows Republicans to acquit Trump, leaving his voting bloc undisturbed, without having to address the mountain of evidence suggesting Trump's culpability head-on. 

President Trump –– who has come into a new legal team after his attorneys abruptly quit because they refused to lie on Trump's behalf –– is now being represented by attorneys David Schoen, longtime advisor of Roger Stone, and Bruce Castor, a former Pennsylvania district attorney who refused to prosecute Bill Cosby. 


Rather than honing in on the legal validity of the House's indictment, Trump's legal team has said that it plans to challenge the constitutionality of the impeachment trial itself. Schoen told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Monday, "This process is completely unconstitutional and it is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the First Amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker which is really against everything we believe and in this country."

Sen. Graham, who has called the trial frivolous, expressed that, if Democrats call any witnesses –– even just one –– Republicans will happily open the floodgates for what is effectively more frivolity by interviewing the FBI, which would likely lengthen the trial. "We'll want the FBI to come in and tell us how people actually pre-planned these attacks and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol," said Graham. 

To make their case, Democratic senators –– all fifty of whom voted against Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul's point order against holding the trial –– have said they plan to use security footage of rioters storming the Capitol. While many members of Congress have said they now fear for their life following the insurrection, Graham and many of his Republican colleagues have expressed that they, quite simply, need to "move on."

Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News.

MORE FROM Jon SkolnikFOLLOW @skolnik_jon

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bruce Castor David Schoen Fbi Impeachment Trial Insurrection Legal Team Lindsey Graham Trump Witness