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Photo: Axios on HBO

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of President Trump's most vital allies on Capitol Hill, opened the door to changing his mind on impeachment if there turns out to be what he considers a quid pro quo.

Why it matters: Graham was a fiery House prosecutor during the 1998 impeachment trial of President Clinton. Now that Graham is in the Senate, he'll vote to acquit — or remove — Trump if he's impeached by the House.

"Sure. I mean ... show me something that ... is a crime," Graham told Axios' Jonathan Swan. "If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing."

  • "As to asking China to look into Biden, that was stupid. ... Bad idea. That didn't last very long. I think that's a frustrated Trump."

But Trump's Ukraine call isn't impeachable on its own, Graham said: "I've read the transcript of the Ukrainian phone call. That's not a quid pro quo to me."

  • The interview was Tuesday, before acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney gave Thursday's "quid pro quo" briefing.
  • Graham's spokesperson, Kevin Bishop, said Friday that Graham still has not heard or seen anything that he deems impeachable.

The big picture: Trump's loosening hold on Graham reflects the mess the president has created for himself in the past two weeks.

  • At the very time he needs a Republican fortress against impeachment, GOP lawmakers are furious at him over his rash pullback in Syria.
  • In the interview, Graham called Trump's abandonment of the Kurds "dishonorable" and a "sh*tshow."

Graham said he's changed his view of Trump's character since opposing him during the 2016 primaries:

  • "I've got to know him, and I find him to be a handful," Graham said. "I find him to be an equal opportunity abuser of people. But at the end of the day, he can be very charming and be very gracious, and I'm judging him by his conduct."

Graham, a Trump golfing companion, said he continues to support Trump's presidency because he's "a Republican. I like his domestic policies. So you play the ball as it lies."

  • "If I spent all day analyzing every tweet he issued, I'd go nuts."

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.