Posts tagged with "Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)"

Dire straits: The decline (and feasible fall) of Lindsey Graham

October 13, 2020

At the 2012 Republican National Convention, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, then a champion of bipartisan immigration reform, warned his party they had a problem. “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term,” he said, according to a report by The Boston Globe.

Now, he and his 2012 rhetoric are unrecognizable.

Indeed, a recent 81-second attack ad by the LindseyMustGo group shows the senator as he used to be—blasting Trump as a “jackass,” “kook,” “crazy” and “unfit for office” before the 2016 election—followed by clips of him today, heaping praise on the president, even calling for him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Over the past few years, the third-term senator has jettisoned the conciliatory political persona he used to display and hitched his wagon to President Donald Trump’s fiery star, which seemed like an obvious recipe for 2020 success in a red state like South Carolina.

But he is now embroiled in the battle of his career against Jaime Harrison, a former state party chair trying to be the first Black Democrat elected to the Senate from the Deep South. Harrison raised a staggering $57 million over the last three months, and the Cook Political Report rates the race a “toss-up” — a startling turn of events for South Carolina, which hasn’t elected a Democratic senator or governor in more than 20 years.

According to the Globe, “The race has been turbocharged by Graham’s outsize role as a defender of the president and a key player in his effort to reshape the Supreme Court. As the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he will preside over the confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett beginning Monday — proceeding despite a clarion 2018 promise not to fill a Supreme Court vacancy so close to this election.”

Graham has called the confirmation process the “Super Bowl” of politics, and he is betting it will fire up South Carolina conservatives, who have long distrusted him, even as it riles up the Democrats determined to highlight his hypocrisy as another reason to send him packing.

“They hate me. This is not about Mr. Harrison. This is about liberals hating my guts,” a pugilistic Graham declared during a debate with Harrison on October 3.

But it’s more than that, Dan Carter, an emeritus professor at the University of South Carolina told the Globe.  “If Graham’s in any jeopardy at all,” he said, “it’s because of Trump and the fact that he had to go through all these contortions to protect himself on the right in the new Trump party.”

Graham, a former military lawyer, flipped his congressional district here in the upstate region of South Carolina in 1994 after a century of Democratic control, campaigning for term limits and against gays in the military. In 2003, he went on to the Senate, where he had a moderate countenanc —an impression fueled by his close friendship with Arizona Republican John McCain; and by his eagerness to join such bipartisan groups as the Gang of Eight. which worked on immigration reform during the Obama presidency. He also crafted climate legislation with Democrats.

He treated the Tea Party movement with undisguised disdain and survived primary challenges from the right in 2014 in part because so many conservatives jumped in to split the field, but he didn’t see the other asteroid that was coming to reshape his party. Graham’s doomed 2016 presidential bid — in which he called then-candidate Trump a “kook” who was “unfit for office” — flamed out before Iowa.

By 2018, he had moved toward Trump, becoming a golfing buddy of the president and an angry defender of his Supreme Court pick that year, Brett Kavanaugh, during a messy confirmation process that turned on accusations of sexual assault. In a party that had changed around him, Graham’s days of presenting himself as a moderate were long gone.

“As it relates to crossing the aisle or building consensus, I think he is fundamentally a builder and not a destroyer,” said Karen Floyd, the former chairwoman of the state’s Republican Party. “When the timing permits, he’ll build more.”

Democrats have gleefully seized on the shift as evidence Graham can’t be trusted. “Lindsey Graham is a flip-flopper. Flipping flippity flippity flop,” said Trav Robertson, the chair of the South Carolina Democrats. “And that’s why Lindsey Graham’s gonna lose.”

Research contact: @BostonGlobe

Protesters at Senator Lindsey Graham’s house seek to block SCOTUS vote before election

September 22, 2020

Following the September 18 death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, dozens of demonstrators gathered outside Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s home in Washington, DC, on Monday morning, September 21—waving banners and signs that called him a “two-faced coward” and demanded that he “keep his word”— after he pledged his support for a Senate vote on President Donald Trump’s SCOTUS nominee ahead of the election.

Democrats have condemned the South Carolina senator and other Republicans for flip-flopping on their opposition to filling a Supreme Court vacancy during a presidential election year, The Huffington Post reports.

In 2016, Graham supported Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to block Senate consideration of Merrick Garland, then-President Barack Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

But Graham, who now chairs the key Judiciary Committee, appeared to change his tune following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, saying he would support Trump “in any effort to move forward” in filling her seat.

Trump said on Monday that he’d announce his nomination Friday or Saturday, and that a Senate vote on his nominee should happen before the November 3 election—a move to “steal” another seat that is sure to trigger widespread anger among voters who are not members of his 40% base.

Protesters on Monday showed up to Graham’s townhouse around 6 a.m., where they banged drums, blared air horns, and demanded that he oppose a Supreme Court confirmation vote before Election Day, the HuffPost reported.

“We can’t sleep so neither should Lindsey,” read one sign held by a protester. Other signs in the crowd labeled Graham a “two-faced coward” and a “hypocrite.”

It’s unclear whether Graham was inside the house during the demonstration, which was organized by Shut Down DC and the Washington, DC, chapter of the Sunrise Movement, two groups focused on tackling the climate crisis.

Trump and many of his Republican allies have called for a swift confirmation of his nominee to the Supreme Court. Ginsburg was one of the court’s most liberal judges, making Republicans eager to fill her seat with a conservative. If they succeed, the court will have a 6-3 conservative majority.

Hours after Ginsburg’s death, McConnell said Trump’s nominee would receive a vote on the Senate floor.

When Scalia died in 2016, McConnell blocked Garland from receiving a hearing in the Senate, claiming the winner of the 2016 presidential election should pick the nominee. Scalia died 269 days before the 2016 presidential election. Ginsburg died 46 days before the 2020 presidential election.

Graham stood by McConnell’s decision in 2016, stating at the time that he strongly supports “giving the American people a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court nominee by electing a new president.”

“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said at the time. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’ And you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”

Graham reiterated his stance in 2018 during a forum with The Atlantic, stating that “if an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election.”

But Graham now seems unfazed by his pledges.

“I fully understand where [Trump] is coming from,” Graham tweeted Saturday in response to the president’s statement that the GOP has an “obligation” to fill the Supreme Court vacancy “without delay.”

About 100 demonstrators protested outside McConnell’s home in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, calling on the Republican leader to allow whoever is elected in November to pick the next Supreme Court nominee.

“I think it’s time to stand up and speak out,” one protester told WLKY. “That’s what Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought her whole life for.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

 

 

 

 

Trump attacks Lindsey Graham after SCOTUS rulings

July 13, 2020

President Donald Trump took a swing—and not the type he uses on the golf course—at his good buddy Senator Lindsey Graham  (R-South Carolina) on Thursday , July 9, in the aftermath of two Supreme Court decisions involving his closely held financial record,—lamenting that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman was not doing enough to target the president’s political foes.

In other words, Graham—who is facing a tough re-election battle at home—was not demonstrating the loyalty that the president demands.

Trump’s tweets came after a 7-2 decision by the Supreme Court upheld a Manhattan grand jury subpoena seeking his tax returns and other financial documents as part of a criminal investigation into the practices of the Trump Organization. Politico reported.

In response, Trump complained that former President Barack Obama was not receiving enough scrutiny over his administration’s decision to open up a counterintelligence investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2016.

Just after the news broke, at 11:35 a.m. (EDT)  Trump tweeted: “We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT…and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear.”

He specifically called out Graham’s committee, writing: “No Republican Senate Judiciary response.”

According to Politico, in his fury, the president disregarded the deeds Graham already has done for him –among them,  running a wide-ranging investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation and using broad subpoena power to compel testimony from several former senior Obama administration officials.

Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s jab.

Earlier this year, Trump pushed Graham to issue a subpoena to Obama himself, demanding that he be put under oath. But Graham has swiftly rejected those calls, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent. Trump has continued to push for such an action.

While Thursday’s Supreme Court rulings handed Trump a loss in the Manhattan case, the justices punted on a separate case involving congressional subpoenas for similar financial records, all but ensuring that the documents will not reach Congress or the public until after Election Day.

Research contact: @politico

Graham to gather signatures for letter to Pelosi saying GOP won’t impeach Trump over Ukraine call

October 10, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—who has been playing the role of golf partner and crony-in-chief to President Donald Trump—on Wednesday said that he is sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to warn her that Senate Republicans won’t impeach the POTUS over his call with Ukraine, The Hill reported.

In an appearance on the Fox News morning show, Fox & Friends, Graham said that he would ask other Senate Republicans to sign the letter—claiming that GOP lawmakers “do not believe the transcript of the phone call between the president and the Ukraine is an impeachable offense.”

“They’re about to destroy the nation for no good reason,” Graham said, according to The Hill. “And I want Nancy Pelosi to know that Republican senators are not going to impeach this president based on this transcript, so she can stop now before she destroys the country.”

House Democrats are in the early stages of an impeachment inquiry into how and why Trump asked the Ukrainian government to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as well as with Attorney General Bill Barr, to provide dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden—while concurrently withholding $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in an effort to get Kiev to launch such a probe.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that; so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump told Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky during the July 25 call.

The White House ramped up the fight over the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, sending a letter to Pelosi and the House committee chairs overseeing the investigation saying that it would refuse to cooperate further with the probe, The Hill said.

In the letter, the White House argued Democrats were pursuing a “constitutionally invalid” investigation of a duly elected president.

Graham, who is one of Trump’s most vocal allies on Capitol Hill, blasted House Democrats on Wednesday, saying they couldn’t “care less about fairness.”

Research contact: @thehill

Lindsey Graham blames media for downfall of British ambassador

July 11, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) “blamed the messenger” on July 10 —the news media—for forcing British Ambassador to the United States Sir Kim Darroch to step down following the leak of his secret cables.

Graham tweeted that the diplomat who infuriated the Trump administration “got a raw deal” from the press, according to a report by The Hill.

The ambassador’s sudden comeuppance—which was covered by U.S. and global media outlets—followed the disclosure of his opinions about the Trump administration, made in a report to the British government.

In that report, which was leaked to the UK’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, the British ambassador called Trump “inept,” “insecure,” and “incompetent”—and noted that the White House is currently “uniquely dysfunctional.”

The ambassador also noted that he did not have much hope for the rest of the U.S. president’s term in office. “We don’t really believe the administration is going to become substantially more normal, less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

After the comments became public, Trump immediately clapped back—escalating the situation in a July 8 tweet: “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him.”

Early on July 9, the president tweeted again, “The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy….I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

As the situation continued to deteriorate, the ambassador made his decision.

In his letter of resignation, issued on Wednesday morning, Darroch said, “Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy, there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador. I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.”

Therefore, he remarked, “Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador.”

Although Graham pointed a finger at the press to protect the president after the resignation became public, it is clear that the “current circumstances” were caused by Darroch and Trump—and not the members of the press who reported on it.

The ambassador will stay on until a replacement is identified.

Research contact: @thehill

Deputy AG Rosenstein to depart DOJ following wrap-up of Russia probe

January 10, 2019

With a new AG pick expected to face confirmation hearings starting next week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—who has been riding herd on the Russia probe (and taking the heat for it) since Jeff Sessions recused himself back in 2017—is planning to step down, NBC News reports.

Rosenstein long had intended to serve just about two years as the Justice Department’s number-two official, contacts in the know told the network news outlet. They assert that this is his own plan—and that he is not being forced out by the White House, although there certainly is no love lost there.

After demanding and receiving Sessions’ resignation in November , President Donald Trump nominated William Barr, who planned to be at the Capitol this week for a round of courtesy calls with senators ahead of his confirmation process, which starts on January 15.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders commented to Fox News: “I don’t think there’s any willingness by the president or the White House to push him out …. My guess is he is making room for the new attorney general to build a team that he wants around him.”

Rosenstein’s intentions were first reported by ABC News. He did not respond to questions on Wednesday morning.

ABC News also reported on January 9 that the president’s nominee for attorney general, William Barr, said he doesn’t think that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is on a “witch hunt,” doesn’t think he should be fired and is committed to making sure that Mueller finishes his investigation, according to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

Research contact: @PeteWilliamsNBC

Clarification: Late on January 9, NBC News reported that “a source close to Rosestein [had] said he intends to stay on until Mueller’s investigative and prosecutorial work id done. The source said that would mean Rosenstein would remain until early March.”

Flake: Mueller protection bill has votes to pass Senate

December 3, 2018

Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) said on November 30 that he believes legislation protecting Special Counsel Robert Mueller—and prevent President Donald Trump from carrying out another Nixon-style Saturday Night Massacre—could pass the Senate, if Republican leadership would agree to bring it up for a vote, The Hill reported.

“I do believe the votes are there on the floor if we can just get a vote, and that’s what I’m calling, let’s just have a vote,” Flake told CNN, asked about a measure that would protect Mueller from being fired without good cause.

The legislation—originally drafted by Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Christopher Coons (D-Delaware), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)— has been given the cold shoulder for months by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

At a press conference last week, McConnell characterized it as “A solution in search of a problem,” adding that “The president is not going to fire Robert Mueller.”

“I don’t know how we can be sanguine about what’s going on over at the Department of Justice in terms of the Mueller probe. It’s important to protect it,” Flake added on Friday. 

Flake, joined by Coons and Booker, appeared on the Senate floor twice in November, attempting to get a vote,  and has been blocked both times. Flake is pledging to oppose all of Trump’s judicial nominees until he gets a vote on the bill, rankling his colleagues who have made confirming the president’s picks their top priority.

Flake and Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) are joining all 49 Democrats to oppose Thomas Farr’s district judge nomination— denying him the 50 votes needed to let Vice President Mike Pence break a tie.

“We need to protect the special counsel; it’s important. Confirming judges is important,” Flake, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, said, according to The Hill report. “I want to confirm more judges … but this has to be priority now. And you have to take a stand. I have leverage because we have a narrow majority on the Judiciary Committee, so I’m using it.”

Research contact: @jordainc