Once a vocal critic of President Trump, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has become one of his staunchest supporters. So much so that he recently warned his fellow Republicans to get behind the President or they will continue losing to Democrats.
Speaking on Fox News Channel’s “The Story” he urged his Republican congressional colleagues to quit making an issue out of the President’s desire to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border by declaring a national emergency.
Graham said he preferred Congress come to an agreement, but he sees no way that might happen. The South Carolina Senator faulted Democrats for their unwillingness to compromise making such a move perfectly legal. He argued that Trump need not declare a national emergency or invoke executive privilege to do an end around stonewalling Democrats.
“What’s the difference between a soldier being sent to secure the border and a soldier being sent to put up a barrier to secure the border?” asked Graham. He then asserted, “Legally none.”
He again reminded both Democrats and Republicans the best way to get a wall built is to work together but Nancy Pelosi isn’t giving her party “much space” to make cooperation possible.
Graham made his strongest affirmation of Trump’s authority yet when he added: “if I were the president, what I would do is use the power of commander-in-chief to go down to the border, and not just send troops, but actually to erect barriers.”
Addressing a political gathering in his home state that same day, Graham warned that a “war within the Republican Party” might be imminent over Trump’s border wall.
The revolt within the Republican Party Graham is referring to is likely between fellow Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), John Cornyn (R-TX) and President Trump.
Rubio has said publicly that a declaration of a national emergency is a “terrible idea” that he would oppose.
Cornyn of said last month that to “give the president authority” to decide on the wall “all by himself would … stretch constitutional boundaries.”
Senate Majority Leader McConnell is reported to be concerned about dissension in GOP ranks. Insiders say he warned the President privately last Friday that declaring an emergency might trigger a GOP revolt.
Pundits have taken Graham’s remarks to refer to the possibility of the President declaring a national emergency. Considering his remarks on Fox, he may have been echoing mounting voices that say President Trump doesn’t need a formal declaration to build the wall.
The military already has full warrant to protect our borders at the discretion of the Commander-in-Chief. For that to happen, Graham said, “It seems to me that [Trump] is going to have to go it alone.”
The New York Times asked last November: What Happened to Lindsey Graham? He’s Become a Conservative ‘Rock Star.’ The liberal paper guessed at several complicated reasons. But in an interview, Graham replied to the NYT bluntly, “I stepped up, and I’m getting rewarded for it by conservatives, and liberals are all upset.”
Like anyone who sides with President Trump, Graham is no longer the darling of centrists on both sides of the aisle. Before the Times report, former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt tweeted, “The fall of Lindsey Graham into the dark Trumpian pit of demagoguery, division and incitement is complete.”
Schmidt’s distaste for Graham probably came from the Senator’s defining moment during the contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearing for the future Justice Kavanaugh.
Who could forget Graham’s gentile southern charm morphing into a good old-fashioned tongue lashing? “Boy,” he snarled, “you all want power — God, I hope you never get it.”
In a private call to Graham, President Trump said, “Wow! Remind me not to make you mad.”
Newt Gingrich was later to say, “Mr. Graham became “a national figure for conservatives overnight.”
Todd Graves, chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, agreed, “Aside from the president or vice president he’s probably the strongest draw that we could get.”
No moment better illustrated, Graham’s decision to stand behind President Trump that when he hammered now ousted Senator Claire McCaskill (Rep – MO) saying, “When Obama needed her, [she] was always there. When Trump needs her? AWOL.”
Though conservatives have disagreed with Graham on many issues, none question his love for this country. Perhaps that is why he and Trump now make up such a formidable team. Kudos to Graham for reminding his party, who was elected to be President and who was not.