Lindsey Graham insinuated in an interview published Sunday night that Donald Trump’s insults shouldn’t be taken too personally because he’s an ‘equal opportunity abuser.’
The Republican senator from South Carolina said in an appearance for ‘Axios on HBO’ that he has genuinely changed his perspective on the president from how he felt during the campaign since getting to know him over the last few years.
‘I’ve gotten to know him and I find him to be a handful. I find him to be an equal opportunity abuser of people,’ Graham told Axios’ Jonathan Swan. ‘But, at the end of the day, he can be very charming, he can be very gracious. And I’m judging him by his conduct. If I spent all day analyzing every tweet he issued, I’d go nuts.’
Graham and Trump have a complicated working relationship. The two go back on forth on defending and condemning one another.
Lindsey Graham said in a recent interview that Trump is a ‘handful’ and an ‘equal opportunity abuser’
The South Carolina senator says he has genuinely changed his feelings towards Trump after getting to know him. ‘[H]e can be very charming, he can be very gracious. And I’m judging him by his conduct. If I spent all day analyzing every tweet he issued, I’d go nuts,’ Graham said
Graham has admitted in the past – and brought it up again during his recent interview – that he did not vote for his party’s nominee in 2016.
Instead of casting his ballot for Trump in the general elections, he voted for Evan McMullin, who Graham claimed he wouldn’t even recognize today.
‘Here’s the deal about Trump: He’s a handful. I didn’t vote for him,’ Graham said and was prompted to share who he did vote for.
‘Evan somebody. I wouldn’t know the dude if he walked in the door,’ he admitted.
‘Evan McMullin. You were a McMullin guy?’ Swan queried.
‘Yeah, I guess. Hey Evan, keep it up, maybe your time’s coming,’ Graham appear to sarcastically encourage.
Graham also brought up his past admission that he did not vote for Trump in 2016 and instead cast his ballot for spoiler independent candidate Evan McMullin (pictured), who he said he wouldn’t recognize ‘if he walked in the door’
‘I didn’t know him, I just didn’t like Trump. I didn’t like what he said, I didn’t like the way he ran his campaign. And I lost. So I made a conscious decision here to try and help him where I can,’ the GOP lawmaker who is up for reelection in 2020 continued.
McMullin, a Republican before 2016, is an investment banker and for CIA operations officer who ran as an independent in 2016 because he believed Trump was unfit for office but also strongly opposed to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Graham said he is trying to be ‘reflective’ and come to an understanding of why Americans elected Trump.
‘There are a lot of working class folks who felt like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Lindsey Graham did not give a damn about them,’ he said, referring to his 2016 primary run in the third-person.
‘I mean, she was secretary of state, first lady, United States senator. She lost to Donald Trump. I lost to Donald Trump. Jeb Bush lost to Donald Trump,’ Graham said. ‘Maybe we should be a little bit reflective. I’ve chosen to be reflective. I’ve chosen to try to find out how to make Trump successful but not at all cost.’
Although Graham has defended Trump against impeachment, he has also been highly critical of the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria earlier this month as Turkey invaded and targeted Kurdish forces there.
‘What President Trump has put in motion is dishonorable. You don’t leave an ally who was there when no one else would be to fight ISIS. To abandon these people is a real s**tshow, and I’m hoping President Trump will reconsider,’ Graham said in condemning the move.
Graham has defended Trump against impeachment, but has been highly critical of the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria earlier this month, calling it the ‘biggest mistake of his presidency’
Graham called the move the ‘biggest mistake of his presidency.’
‘It will certainly lead to the return of ISIS, and I told the president that if you think they’re just going to Europe, that’s crazy. They will come here if they can,’ he continued.
Several GOP lawmakers have broken rank with the president on his move to take troops out of the hotly contested region. Last week 129 Republican members of the House signed a bipartisan resolution condemning the pullout.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he wants ‘something even stronger’ than that resolution.
The withdraw helped pave the way for Turkish forces to attack U.S. allies in northern Syria, but Trump lauds this as him keeping a campaign promise to get troops home.
Graham said his job as a senator is to represent the people from his state, where 54.9 per cent voted for Trump in 2016 and 40.7 per cent for Clinton.
‘I’ve come to believe that my job is put America ahead of me. People in South Carolina like Trump. They want me to work with him. I represent them. I owe it to them to try. I owe it to him to try,’ Graham said.