The one reason Lindsey Graham's impeachment stunt may actually matter

Yesterday was not the finest day in the career of South Carolina's senior U.S. senator.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Thursday introduced a resolution backed by more than 40 GOP senators excoriating House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, accusing Democrats of violating due process for interviewing key witnesses behind closed doors.Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the five-page resolution that includes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as a co-sponsor on Thursday afternoon.

Reflecting on Graham's antics, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank asked, "Could he be any more shameful?" I'm tempted to answer in the negative, but the Senate Judiciary Committee's chairman keeps finding new ways to embarrass himself.

At this point, it's tempting to write a point-by-point takedown of everything Graham said during his unfortunate press conference yesterday afternoon. I'm inclined to write a long, tiresome piece explaining in excruciating detail that there's nothing scandalous about the House's impeachment inquiry; Graham is surely aware of that; he's contradicting his own stated principles; Graham's rhetoric about due process doesn't make any sense at all; and he appears unusually pitiful doing the bidding of a president who recently felt the need to remind Graham that he's his "boss."

But for now, let's put those relevant considerations aside and consider a more practical detail: the number of co-sponsors on Graham's pointless resolution.

As of this morning, 44 Senate Republicans have signed on as original co-sponsors of Graham's non-binding resolution denouncing the House's impeachment process. There are currently 53 Senate Republicans in total, which means all but eight of the GOP members in the chamber have linked arms with Graham in support of this misguided measure.

(The eight, in case you're curious, are Cory Gardner, Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Johnny Isakson, Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, and Mike Enzi.)

Graham has said he actually has 46 co-sponsors lined up, though it's not yet clear who the other two supporters are.

And why does this tally matter? For one thing, it tells us that Graham's resolution doesn't yet have the votes to pass, which isn't great news for the White House.

On the other hand, if the House impeaches Donald Trump in the near future -- an outcome I consider a near certainty -- the matter would go to the Senate for a trial. If every member of the Senate Democratic conference votes to remove the president from office -- which is by no means a certainty -- they would need to be joined by 20 of the Senate's 53 Republicans on at least one count.

As things stand, somewhere between six and eight GOP senators balked at Lindsey Graham's ridiculous resolution. With this in mind, the odds of 20 Senate Republicans agreeing to remove Trump from office are poor.

* Update: I've amended this post to note Graham's co-sponsor tally.