Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) could wind up a top Senate player as the investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign intensifies, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Graham could become the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican next year. This could happen if current chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa decides to become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to succeed Orrin Hatch of Utah, who said Tuesday that he would retire this year. Graham, who is up for re-election in 2020, would have to straddle the line between being a collegial, bipartisan deal-maker — his reputation in the Senate — and asserting his hardline conservative bona fides to ward off primary challengers in his deep-red state. Graham had to play to both sides in his last reelection campaign in 2014, when he won with 54 percent.
Trump won South Carolina by nearly 14 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton. If Democrats retake control of the Senate and House next year and pursue impeachment proceedings, political life could get even stickier for Graham, who as a member of the House Judiciary Committee in the 1990s was a Senate floor manager for the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. If Republicans lose their majority in the Senate next year and impeachment proceedings are in the offing, Grassley might want to keep his judiciary job. Also, if the GOP keeps its majority and Supreme Court retirements seem likely, Grassley might want to lead confirmation hearings for new justices.