DOHA, Qatar — After traveling 9,600 miles from Washington, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham found that foreign leaders were impressed by President Trump’s defiance of impeachment.
Asked about the global repercussions of the impeachment episode, Mr. Graham said that what will ultimately be a failed effort to oust the president will, in the end, strengthen Mr. Trump’s standing in the Middle East.
“The president will be politically stronger. I think people in this region have a sense that if you take a figurative shot at somebody and you miss, they are stronger,” he told The Washington Times. “From a Middle East point of view, he took their best punch and he is still standing.”
House Democrats are expected to pass articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump this week, setting up a trial in the Republican-run Senate that will likely end in an acquittal.
Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, said he expected the Senate to wrap up the trial next month.
Asked if there was any scenario in which he could see the president convicted in a Senate trial and removed from office, Mr. Graham described that outcome as a pipe dream for Democrats.
“When Martians take over the country or when I am drafted by the NBA,” quipped Mr. Graham.
He was in the Middle East to speak at the Doha Forum, an annual gathering of world leaders and policy experts from around the globe. This year’s event was focused on considering approaches to governance in an increasingly multi-national world that are moral, cooperative and practical.
The senator took time out from the Forum to sit down for an exclusive interview with The Times.
Mr. Graham, by his count, has made 58 trips to the Middle East region but this was the first time when, as a senator, his president is under the shadow of impeachment.
Still, Mr. Graham said it has had no impact on his job nor his communication with other world leaders.
“They’ve figured it out,” he said. “I talked with the Emir [of Qatar] last night. Everybody knows this can’t even rise to the level of meaningless. This impeachment is about Nancy Pelosi keeping her speakership. It is not about the misconduct of Donald Trump.”
He faulted Ms. Pelosi, California Democrat, for giving into what he described as an impeachment hysteria gripping her party.
“Nancy had a view we should be collaborative, we should be deliberative and that it should be bi-partisan. That all gave way when the mob revolted,” he said.
Mr. Graham was referencing the left-wing of the Democrat Party that clamored for impeachment since the first day Mr. Trump took office. Ms. Pelosi resisted it at first, but as the idea gained momentum among her members, she did an about-face and joined the mob.
Mr. Graham also said that he was pleasantly surprised to find that impeachment so far has not dramatically slowed the other work of Congress, including advancing the massive trade deal known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA.
“What amazes me is how much we’ve actually gotten done. We’ve got the USMCA,” he said. “It was negotiated the same day they announced the impeachment articles. We’re going to have a budget deal, which would be great for the military. It’s kind of amazing.”
Mr. Graham expressed confidence that once impeachment is behind them, Congress will be even more productive. “I think Democrats feel the pressure to do two things: satisfy their base who hates Donald Trump’s guts but also to try to show the country they’re not completely crazy, so the ability to govern after impeachment may actually go up,” he said.