Gonna have to disagree with him here.
There’s no evidence that Lindsey Graham is a nice guy.
There is evidence that he’s a RINO, starting with his oft-repeated support for immigration reform back when he was John McCain’s sidekick. But that’s not why Trump is after him. Trump can tolerate policy differences with his allies. It’s when you cross him on a matter relating to his own self-aggrandizement, like the idea that the people who rioted at the Capitol to try to overturn the election for him were bad, that he starts to hold grudges.
What made someone a “Republican In Name Only” 15 years ago isn’t what makes them one today, in other words. Graham has grown more hawkish on the border to keep pace with the party. But he’s unwilling to forgive the insurrectionists for January 6, which means his loyalty to the GOP is now in question:
“I think it is inappropriate” — Lindsey Graham on Trump promising pardons to those convicted of crimes connected to the January 6 attack on Congress (Graham then tries to bothsides it by bringing up Kamala Harris) pic.twitter.com/Hr6Sgz8RPp
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 30, 2022
McConnell was also asked about pardoning the rioters yesterday. Having already made a sworn enemy of Trump, he declined to go soft on the “Hang Mike Pence” crowd as well:
.@LeaderMcConnell: “What we saw here on 1/6 was an effort to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another. […] I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes.” https://t.co/OufRXwJ0A7 pic.twitter.com/zhhsEMKDQn
— The Hill (@thehill) February 2, 2022
Democrat Pete Aguilar, a member of the January 6 committee, made an obvious point this morning about Trump dangling pardons for the rioters at his rally last Saturday night. Given that there’s a federal investigation of the insurrection in progress and that Trump has all but declared his intention to run for president again in 2024, the pardon-dangling amounts to witness tampering. If Trump’s openly willing to pardon people who are doing time for actual violence, he’s certainly willing to pardon others willing to obstruct justice by refusing to cooperate with the committee.
Why, pardoning corrupt political cronies is as much a part of the Trump brand at this point as golf courses are.
Watch his exchange with Newsmax below in which he calls Graham a RINO and you’ll find much that’s familiar. The alleged martyrdom of Ashli Babbitt; the minimization of the harm done to the cops who protected the Capitol; the constant refrain of “unfairness” whenever he or his allies face consequences for their misconduct. Fundamentally, I think, Trump can’t stomach the idea that people who worship him so much that they’d be willing to use force to try to keep him in power should be thought of as culpable in any way. It would have been bad for him to dangle pardons for insurrectionists at any point since January 6 but doing so now, less than three weeks after a bunch of Oath Keepers were charged with seditious conspiracy, is as strong a signal as he can send that outright sedition warrants no sanction if it’s committed in his name.
Oh, and he also resorts to the old lie that the January 6 rioters were punished while none of the BLM rioters during the summer before were. That’s not remotely true. Even if it were true, any normal civic-minded person who believed in law and order would argue that the proper remedy is to prosecute the BLM rioters more aggressively, not to hand out pardons to the insurrectionists in the name of “balancing the scales” or whatever.
And to the extent that it’s true that the BLM rioters weren’t prosecuted as vigorously as the January 6 rioters, maybe that’s partly a matter of the insurrectionists having taken care to leave a gigantic, almost exhaustive evidence trail for the feds to find them. If you’re going to livestream your coup attempt, you shouldn’t be surprised if an unusually high rate of participants end up being tracked down and jailed.
Exit quotation from Graham, responding to this Trump interview: “I stand with the police officers who protect our streets, federal courthouses, and the United States Capitol against rioters. They deserve our respect and support and I will not second-guess the decisions they made under dire circumstances.” Spoken like a true 2022-era RINO.