White House hopeful Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case A pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (R-S.C.) will call for South Carolina to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in the wake of the shooting deaths of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.
A source familiar with Graham's decision said he will make the call alongside Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) at a press conference Monday afternoon. The Post and Courier reported earlier Monday afternoon that Haley would call for the flag's removal at the news conference.
The decision is the latest shift in opinion by the Palmetto State senator since Wednesday night's shooting. Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old suspected shooter, has been seen in pictures standing next to the flag and wearing patches of flags from African governments that supported segregation. He also reportedly told police he had wanted to start a race war.
Graham initially defended the Confederate flag on Friday, saying that, while he'd welcome a debate over the merits of keeping the flag flying, "it works here."
"Well, at the end of the day it's time for people in South Carolina to revisit that decision. [That] would be fine with me, but this is part of who we are," Graham said on CNN.
"The flag represents to some people a civil war, and that was the symbol of one side. To others, it's a racist symbol, and ... it's been used in a racist way."
By Saturday, he softened that stance and said in an interview with Fusion that it’s a debate that "needs to happen."
Many of Graham's fellow Republicans have also announced their opposition to flying the flag in the Palmetto State, including his home state colleague, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the Senate's only black Republican, according to the Post and Courier.
Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) joined calls to pull the flag, saying Monday morning that flying the flag serves "no purpose anymore."
Others released similar statements in the hours before Haley's press conference. Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) noted in his statement that "many see the flag as a symbol of racial intolerance." Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) tweeted out a link to a Washington Post opinion piece and said "take it down."
— This report was updated at 3:17 p.m.