Lindsey Graham urges Donald Trump not to pardon Capitol rioters, calls him 'most important figure' in GOP

The senator's stance on Trump has remained ambiguous and his concern for POTUS have come at a time when the Republicans are deeply divided over the president

                            Lindsey Graham urges Donald Trump not to pardon Capitol rioters, calls him 'most important figure' in GOP
Lindsey Graham and President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

The conduct of no other leader of the Republican Party perhaps summarizes the state of the GOP as perfectly as Senator Lindsey Graham. The 65-year-old lawmaker from South Carolina has been found to be ambiguous over his stance when it comes to President Donald Trump’s behavior in the recent months, particularly since he lost the presidential battle to Joe Biden. While he has displayed loyalty to the president a number of times, he has not completely agreed with his repeated claims of electoral fraud but then, he has neither supported the idea of impeaching Trump (he even criticized his own party leadership on this) for allegedly instigating his supporters to storm the Capitol.  

On Sunday, January 17, Graham’s ambiguity came to the fore once again. Speaking to Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on ‘Sunday Morning Futures’, the veteran warned that Trump could “destroy” himself by granting pardon to those who stormed the Capitol on January 6 to protest the result of the November election. He also called the incumbent “the most important figure in the Republican Party” despite the fact that the GOP has found itself terribly divided over the mercurial leader’s legacy. 

Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

Addressing Trump during the interview, Graham said: “Mr. President, your policies will stand the test of time. You're the most important figure in the Republican Party. You can shape the direction of the party, keep your movement alive. We need to understand that these are difficult times.

“There are a lot of people urging the president to pardon folks who participated in defiling the Capitol, the rioters. I don’t care if you went there and spread flowers on the floor, you breached the security of the Capitol, you interrupted a joint session of Congress, you tried to intimidate us all, you should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” He also said: “And to seek a pardon of these people would be wrong. I think it would destroy President Trump and I hope we don’t go down that road.”

And while advising the president against pardoning the rioters at the Capitol, Graham also lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who succeeded in getting Trump impeached in the Democratic-controlled lower chamber for the second time in 13 months. The GOP senator expressed outrage over the violence and accused Pelosi of not doing enough to secure the building’s defense. 

“It was horrendous to see people take over the Capitol, the House and the Senate, beat officers, defile the seat of government,,” Graham said. “How in the hell did that happen? Where was Nancy Pelosi? It’s her job to provide Capitol security. We’ll get to the bottom of that.” Five people, including a cop, lost their lives in the violence. Graham won his fourth Senate term in November and is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.



Meanwhile, Graham was mocked on another show on MSNBC where members of a panel laughed at him after Pulitzer-winning journalist Connie Schultz, wife of Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, dismissed any discussion on the former as “irrelevant” since he has now lost his position of eminence in the Senate with the GOP losing its majority. The Republicans lost both the Senate runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 to find themselves getting tied at 50-50 with the Democrats but since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has the tie-breaking vote, they have essentially lost control of the chamber. 

MSNBC panelists mock Senator Graham

When ‘The Sunday Show’ host Jonathan Capeheart asked his panelists about Graham’s recent comments about post-Trump America, none of them were ready to spend much words on him. When Capeheart asked Donna Edwards, a former Democratic representative from Maryland and one of the panel members: “Donna, to talk about your reaction to what Senator Graham had to say about proceeding with the impeachment trial,” the latter said: “Well, I think Senator Graham is actually in the least position to declare what the Congress, the Senate should do or not. The reality is that this president was impeached by the House of Representatives already and it's the obligation of the United States Senate to hold him to account and to push for a conviction so that they can make sure that he never again holds public office.”

Tom Nichols, a Naval College professor, said in his response: “I think we shouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about what Lindsey Graham thinks because that seems to change based on the time of day. This is the same Lindsey Graham who had said he had enough, it was over, he couldn’t do it anymore. Then the next day he was on Air Force One with the president. So, other than that he’s obviously voting against conviction, I’m not sure that we get very far trying to parse the inner logic of Lindsey Graham’s position on anything.” Graham accompanied Trump aboard Air Force One to visit the wall in Texas just a week after distancing himself from the latter’s effort to contest the results of the 2020 election. 



Schultz then chipped in saying: “I think Lindsey Graham changes his viewpoint quite regularly at this point. The people he needs to be talking to are people that can help him with this disorder.” She then said that Graham is irrelevant for her now and she is done listening to him, making the host and other panelists erupting into laughter.

Graham, meanwhile, acknowledged the fact that he hast lost 112k followers on Twitter.