In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that he didn’t necessarily agree with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to deliver a big speech condemning Donald Trump for the events of January 6th. While McConnell opted not to vote for convicting Trump on the impeachment charges of incitement, he explained that his only reason for voting to acquit was because he found the entire process of impeaching a non-sitting president to be unconstitutional. The underlying substance of the charge, McConnell made clear, was another story.
“January 6th was a disgrace,” McConnell said. “American citizens attacked their own government. They used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like. Fellow Americans beat and bloodied our own police. They stormed the Senate floor. They tried to hunt down the Speaker of the House. They built a gallows and chanted about murdering the Vice President.
“They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election,” he continued. “Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
On Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace prompted Graham: “Let me ask you about one person that [Trump] might be mad at and tell me if he is or he isn’t – Mitch McConnell, who made a curious speech yesterday in which he basically said the president is guilty, but that the Senate doesn’t have the power to convict, to act against a former president. What did he think of McConnell’s speech, what did you think of McConnell’s speech?”
“Well, number one, I was a bit surprised, but I heard this in 1998. I’ve been in three of the four impeachments,” Graham said. “I’m sorry about that. The bottom line — in 1998, you had a lot of Democrats acquit Clinton but got on the floor and said how bad he was. You know, Nancy Pelosi called us all cowards. I don’t think most Republicans care what she thinks.
“I think Senator McConnell’s speech, he got a load off a chest obviously, but unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans,” he continued. “That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns. I would imagine if you’re a Republican running in Arizona or Georgia or New Hampshire, where we have a chance to take back the Senate, they may be playing Senator McConnell’s speech and asking about it as a candidate. I imagine if you’re an incumbent Republican, they’re going to be people asking you will you support Senator McConnell in the future. So I like them, Senator McConnell. He worked well with President Trump. I think his speech is an outlier regarding how Republicans feel about all this.”
It certainly seems that way. We suppose that McConnell is on a mission to make the Republican Party “his” again in the wake of Trump’s 2020 defeat, but we’ve got some serious doubts about the strength of that mission. At best, he’s just given a whole lot of Republicans all the leeway they need to run against their own Senate leader in the next election.