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The Lindsey Graham (1999) Standard of ‘High Crimes’: ‘Important Person Hurts Somebody of Low Means’


Add another throwback video from two decades ago to the pile.

President Donald Trump is accused of withholding $400 million in military aid from an ally under attack by Russia in order to get that ally to commit to announcing investigations that would be favorable to him politically. Back in 1999, when the impeached president was Bill Clinton, then-Impeachment Manager Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) defined “High Crimes” in a non-scholarly but direct way: “important person hurts somebody of low means.”

The important person in today’s scenario is President Trump, and the person of low means is Ukraine, which would explain why Impeachment Manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) selected this video and played it on Thursday afternoon.

You can watch that moment below and a longer version of the video above.

“What’s a high crime? How ’bout if an important person hurts somebody of low means? It’s not very scholarly but I think it’s the truth. I think that’s what they meant by high crimes. Doesn’t even have to be a crime. It’s just when you start using your office and you’re acting in a way that hurts people, you’ve committed a high crime,” Graham said.

Sen. Graham was not there to see the video, having walked out of the Senate chamber “moments before” the clip played.

Graham and a number of other GOP Senators sparked widespread outrage by leaving the room during Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) speech on Wednesday afternoon.

“[Y]ou don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic,” Graham also said in 1999. “If this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role because […] Impeachment is not about punishment, impeachment is about cleansing the office.”

“Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office,” he added.

[Image via YouTube/screengrab]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.