After Once Defending Cheney, Graham Now Abandons Her: Insists GOP ‘Can’t Grow’ Without Trump

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on January 7, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who just months ago lauded Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as one of the “strongest and most reliable conservative voices in the Republican Party,” is now abandoning  the third-ranking House Republican who refuses to back down from calling on her colleagues to reject former President Donald Trump and his crusade against democracy. 

“I would just say to my Republican colleagues, can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no,” Graham said during a Fox News interview on Thursday night. 

“I’ve always liked Liz Cheney, but she’s made the determination that the Republican Party can’t grow with President Trump. I’ve determined we can’t grow without him,” he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

The comments were a far cry from the defense Graham once put up to support Cheney when she faced calls by Republicans for her removal as conference chair in the lower chamber after voting to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol in January.

At that time, he called her strength and leadership “invaluable to the Republican Party.”

The shifted posture from Graham comes after earlier this week, Cheney angered colleagues when she penned an op-ed in the Washington Post suggesting that the GOP was at a “turning point” in its choice between Trump and his big election lie, and the truth.

“The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution,” she wrote.

“The question before us now is whether we will join Trump’s crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have,” she added.

Last week, Cheney had frustrated Trump’s congressional allies when she told reporters that she did not view the former president as the leader of the Republican Party.

“I think right now, the Republican Party is headed by Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy in the House. I think our elected leaders, you know, are the ones who are in charge of the Republican party,” Cheney told reporters at the GOP’s annual policy retreat in Orlando, Florida, “And I think as we look at ’22 and ’24, we’re very much going to be focused on substance and on the issues.”

After challenging Trump and his allies, and urging GOP members to reckon with the realities of the Capitol riot in January, Cheney is facing down a potential ouster but few are bucking falsehood to defend her.

House GOP leadership has all but abandoned her as House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) pledged to support Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)– a promoter of Trump’s false election fraud claims — as her replacement. 

Graham on Thursday appeared to reinforce the very notion that Cheney has used her likely dwindling podium to fight — even referring on Thursday to the GOP as the “Trump Republican Party,” which he said had attracted people.

“If you don’t get that as a Republican, you are making the biggest mistake in the history of the Republican Party,” he added.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: