On Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham gave an interview to Axios in which he defended the president, but that’s not what most of the media is reporting.
Headlines of “Lindsey Graham does not rule out the possibility of Trump impeachment if new evidence emerges” (CNN), and “Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s staunchest GOP allies, called the president a ‘handful’ and suggested he may support impeachment if new evidence comes out” (Business Insider) tell the tale of an interview badmouthing the president, but nothing could be further from the truth.
While the sensationalism (if not flat-out lying) of the media is a story on its own, we are going to focus on what was ACTUALLY said in the interview.
Senator Graham was indeed critical of President Trump’s decision to remove troops from Syria. This is something that he hasn’t kept secret, and is on record saying that this is the “worst decision of his presidency,” but he is in no way considering impeachment.
When asked “how could you support his re-election?”, Senator Graham gave a simple answer:
“I thought the same thing of Obama”.
“I like his [Trump’s] domestic policies. So you play the ball as it lies.”
Senator Graham was then asked to respond to the president’s critics who say he’s a “bigot”, and “unfit to be president,” but for some reason the main stream media seems to have glossed over this portion of the interview.
“I think if you’re black as coal, and you say something nice about him, he likes you,” Graham joked. “The American people elected him. I don’t think they would’ve elected [a bigot].”
“I didn’t like Trump, I didn’t like his campaign, but I lost… I’ve gotten to know him. I find him to be a handful. I find him to be an equal opportunity abuser of people, but at the end of the day he can be very charming, and very gracious.”
The topic of the conversation quickly turned to impeachment, where old clips of Graham during the Clinton impeachment were brought up. Graham was quick to point out the difference between the circumstances then, and the predicament we are in today.
“In 1998, the House voted to open an impeachment inquiry,” Graham said.
The reporter went on to say that the Constitution does not require an inquiry to be voted on, and that’s when Lindsey Graham educated the man on why the democrats aren’t wanting a vote:
“If an inquiry of impeachment is opened as a whole the minority party gets to call witnesses, and subpoena witnesses… This is unfair to the president.”
Lindsey went on to say that Trump asking China to dig into the Bidens was “stupid”, but never went as far as calling it an impeachable offense. Graham told the interviewer that although he was “mad at Obama every day”, he “never called for impeachment”.
Then, Graham was asked the question that just about every outlet is running with: “Are you open minded that if more comes out you could support impeachment?”
Holy moly, talk about a loaded question. How do you say “no” to “are you open minded”? Well, duh. That could mean literally anything. Yes, I would hope that every person is open minded that if ACTUAL IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES occur, then an impeachment inquiry should be opened.
That’s not how the media is running with it.
“Sure, I mean show me something that is a crime,” Graham replied. “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.”
Notice the words “COULD”, and “SHOW ME”. That evidence doesn’t exist, but that’s not what people take away from the headlines previously mentioned. Seeing as most people don’t actually read the content, most Americans are going to assume that Lindsey Graham has flipped on the president. Obviously that isn’t what happened.
Graham was asked to explain a 2016 quote in which he said the Republican Party would be “destroyed” if Trump were to become the nominee.
“I think what I said in 2016, clearly I didn’t understand Donald Trump.
I didn’t get that there were a lot of working class folks who felt like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Lindsey Graham did not give a damn about them. I mean she was Secretary of State. First Lady. A United States Senator. She lost to Donald Trump. I lost to Donald Trump. Jeb Bush lost to Donald Trump.
Maybe, we should be a little bit reflective. I’ve chosen to be reflective. I’ve chosen to do what I can to make Trump successful, but not at all costs.”
That’s a far cry from calling for impeachment. If anything, Lindsey Graham is telling the rest of the country that maybe they need to do a little reflecting themselves.