It’s pretty clear what he and McConnell are trying to achieve with this new resolution denouncing the Dems’ impeachment inquiry, annnnnd it’s pretty clear that it’s not going to work. Not fully, at least.

The president and his inner circle want to know why his most loyal crony isn’t being as loyal as they’d like lately. Bad enough that Graham would join in the chorus attacking Trump for abandoning the Kurds, but now he won’t even use his power on the Judiciary Committee to launch investigations into the Burisma and CrowdStrike matters. What the hell are they even keeping this guy around for if he won’t counterprogram the impeachment inquiry for them?

Rand Paul’s doing some solid crony work for Trump by leaning on Graham too:

Graham’s offering this new resolution as an olive branch to the White House in lieu of holding hearings. He’s said elsewhere that he doesn’t think Burisma and CrowdStrike are within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee, that they’re more properly left to the Intelligence Committee — which is probably true but unlikely to appease Trump, who cares nothing for formalities. In truth, Graham’s probably just worried about the high downside risk to him of opening those two probes. The CrowdStrike hearing will likely end up with people like Tom Bossert testifying that Trump’s a crank for believing that there’s some secret server somewhere that proves the DNC hacking was an inside job. The Burisma hearing holds more promise, but Graham may be guessing that it’s unlikely to show wrongdoing by *Joe* Biden. Certainly it can and would show that *Hunter* Biden had no business being on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, suggesting that he was named a director purely so that the company could influence the administration via Joe Biden. But absent evidence that it did influence Biden, or that the corrupt prosecutor whom Biden pressured Ukraine to fire really was intent on investigating Hunter Biden and Burisma, that hearing’s not going to deliver what Trump wants it to deliver.

And then guess who’ll be blamed. Right: Lindsey Graham, the crony who proved to be useless to Trump when it mattered. Even if Graham ends up being safely reelected to the Senate next fall, the brownie points he’s earned with the GOP base will be lost. So, unless Graham can be convinced in advance that the Burisma probe really might pay off, what incentive does he have to do it?

Instead he’ll try to placate the president with a formal Senate resolution denouncing the House impeachment process. Interestingly, he has Mitch McConnell’s support on that. Cocaine Mitch is in his own awkward spot with Trump right now, as you already know if you read this post on Tuesday. McConnell’s been critical of the president on Syria, he contradicted Trump’s claim that the two had spoken by phone about the Ukraine call, and he declined to defend Trump’s description of the House process as a “lynching.” And the media has noticed. Maybe McConnell has concluded that there’s a little too much distance between him and the president at a moment when Republican voters are demanding unity and so he decided to throw Trump a bone in the form of Graham’s resolution. It’ll buy him — and the vulnerable Senate Republicans who are on the ballot next fall — a little cheap cred with the base while they wait for impeachment to move forward, a signal that they’re still on the team for now as they mull whether to remove the president.

What’s also interesting is that McConnell must have reason to believe that 51 Republicans will support this resolution. Otherwise he wouldn’t let it come to the floor, right? It’d be a total messaging disaster for the GOP if Graham moved to denounce the House proceedings and then Romney, Murkowski, and a few others switched sides to vote with Schumer. Although, really, why would Romney et al. do that in this case? The resolution means nothing and it’s an easy opportunity to show solidarity with the party on a low-stakes vote. That’s the reason McConnell’s supporting it. Just dunk on the Democrats here and hope that satisfies Trump’s fans for a few weeks.

Lindsey knows what to say to satisfy them:

“If we were doing this, you’d be beating the sh– out of us,” Graham bluntly told a reporter at one point, accusing Democrats of selectively leaking testimony from their closed-door hearings, without affording Republicans the opportunity to subpoena or publicly cross-examine witnesses. “And, I think it says a lot about people in your business, with all due respect.”…

Graham’s resolution specifically called on the House to vote immediately to initiate a formal impeachment inquiry; and demanded that the House “provide President Trump, like every other American, with due process, to include the ability to confront his accusers, call witnesses on his behalf, and have a basic understanding of the accusations against him that would form any basis for impeachment.”…

“If we pulled this stunt, you’d be eating us alive,” Graham said at the news conference. “How many people have asked me about [diplomat] Bill Taylor’s opening statement? If we had Rudy Giuliani’s opening statement, and he said he did nothing wrong, I doubt that you would accept that. 47 Republican House members feel like it’s not working for them. They feel like [Kurt] Volker’s testimony has been selectively released, [Rep. John] Ratcliffe’s cross-examination of Taylor is not available to you. … There’s a way to do it.”

Graham also complained at this afternoon’s presser that “If you can drive down a president’s poll numbers by having proceedings where you selectively leak information, where the president who’s the subject of all this is pretty much shut out, God help future presidents.” Trump’s job approval is down a few points in the RCP average since the Ukraine story broke big but obviously everything is in flux as the inquiry proceeds. When (not if) he’s acquitted by the Senate after a public trial, he’ll likely recover fully. He may even get a bounce if the Democrats’ evidence at trial turns out to be as thin as House Republicans claim.

Here’s the list of Republican co-sponsors of Graham’s resolution as of 4:45 p.m. ET. There are 44. The nine holdouts are Alexander, Collins, Enzi, Gardner, Isakson, Murkowski, Portman, Romney, and Sullivan. Portman and Sullivan will dutifully join the sponsors but the other seven are … interesting cases, a mix of anti-Trumpers (Romney and Murkowski), incumbents facing very tough reelection bids (Collins and Gardner), and incumbents who are retiring and thus have nothing to lose by thwarting Trump (Alexander, Enzi, and Isakson). I think the last group will all join with Graham. What about the others?