During Congress' lame-duck session in 1998, just a week before Christmas, the Republican-led House impeached then-President Bill Clinton. Among the serious allegations against the Democrat were claims that Clinton encouraged and permitted others to lie on his behalf.
As the legal/political process unfolded, GOP members from the House Judiciary Committee became impeachment "managers," tasked with making their case to the Senate and asking senators to remove the sitting president from office. But as part of those same efforts, those Republicans also did their best to persuade the public that their cause was just.
In fact, as MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted on his show last night, a young GOP congressman from South Carolina named Lindsey Graham went on "Meet the Press" in January 1999 to argue that Clinton shouldn't get away with his alleged misdeeds.
"[Clinton] doesn't have to say, 'Go lie for me,' to be a crime," Graham said at the time. "You don't have to say, 'Let's obstruct justice' for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases."
That sounds like a fairly reasonable posture. The trouble, of course, is that two decades have gone by, Graham is now a senator, and it's his ally in the White House who's facing credible allegations of lying, encouraging others to lie, and taking a series of other deliberate steps to undermine a federal investigation into alleged presidential misconduct.
And how, pray tell, did the Republican lawmaker respond to the release of the Mueller report?
Graham said in a statement that his panel is studying the report. The South Carolina Republican says he's eager to hear Barr's May 1 testimony to his panel.
"Once again, I applaud Attorney General Barr for his commitment to transparency and keeping the American people informed," he wrote.
Given Barr's political antics and deceptions, I'm not sure how the senator's praise makes sense, but for now, let's put that aside.
Instead, let's ask a more pointed question: will 2019 Lindsey Graham apply 1999 Lindsey Graham's standards?