Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday tried serving up a bothsides-ism as he sought to distance himself from former President Trump’s suggestion that he might pardon the mob of his supporters who participated in the deadly Capitol insurrection if he is re-elected.
On Saturday night, the former president boasted to a crowd of his supporters at a rally in Conroe, Texas that he would treat Capitol insurrectionists “fairly” by giving them pardons if he runs for re-election and wins. The deadly Capitol insurrection last year occurred hours after Trump urged his supporters at a “Stop the Steal” rally to “fight like hell” to overturn the election results. The rally happened hours before the joint session of Congress certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Pressed during an interview on CBS about whether he agrees with his buddy Trump on the question of pardoning Capitol insurrectionists, Graham initially sidestepped the question by claiming that he does not want to “send any signal that it was OK to defile the Capitol.”
“There are other groups with causes that may want to go down to the violent path if these people get pardoned,” Graham said.
Asked whether he thinks the former president’s pledge to his supporters who stormed the Capitol is “dangerous,” Graham said that Trump’s vow was “inappropriate” while reiterating that he does not condone “defiling” the Capitol.
Graham then pivoted to bothsides-ing the situation by alluding to Kamala Harris’ tweet in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020 that included a link to a bail fund for protesters in Minnesota. Graham has rolled out that same flimsy argument before over the past year.
“When Kamala Harris and her associates and the people that work for her, her staffers, raised money to bail out the rioters who hit cops in the head and burned down stores — I didn’t like that either,” Graham said.
“So I don’t want to do anything from raising bail to pardoning people who take the law into their own hands because it will make more violence more likely. I want to deter people who did what [happened] on January the 6th,” Graham continued. “And those who did it, I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it.”
Despite Graham claiming that he found Trump’s floating of pardons for Capitol insurrectionists to be “inappropriate,” the prominent Trump ally — who entertained Trump’s bogus claims of election fraud for months — has repeatedly defended the former president after the attack.
Graham was among the GOP senators who painted Trump’s second impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection” as a partisan attack. The Trump ally also complained that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “put a load on the back of Republicans” ahead of midterm elections after condemning Trump for inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol — despite McConnell’s vote against convicting Trump.
Graham has since parroted Trump’s vendetta against McConnell for supposed insufficient loyalty. In addition to claiming that the GOP “can’t grow without” Trump, Graham threatened to vote against McConnell if he doesn’t “effectively work” with the former president.
Watch Graham’s remarks below: