Trump dismisses talk of Graham joining Cabinet

Trump dismisses talk of Graham joining Cabinet
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE on Tuesday dismissed talk of Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Hillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings MORE (R-S.C.) joining his Cabinet, telling reporters that he believes the senator "wants to stay right where he is."

"Certainly I would," Trump said when asked if he would give Graham a place in his administration. "But I think he's really happy."

Graham's future became the subject of immediate speculation after Trump announced that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyPresidential candidates serving in the Senate must recuse themselves from impeachment proceedings Haley: Dylann Roof 'hijacked' Confederate flag Trump: Kellyanne Conway 'must have done some bad things' to 'crazy' husband MORE would depart her post by the end of the year. 

Graham has been considered a potential Cabinet pick, should Trump move on from Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLisa Page sues DOJ, FBI over alleged privacy violations Sessions leads GOP Senate primary field in Alabama, internal poll shows Trump rebukes FBI chief Wray over inspector general's Russia inquiry MORE or Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE. Appointing Graham would free up a Senate seat for Haley to campaign for in her home state of South Carolina.

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Haley said she is "not running for 2020," instead saying she would campaign for Trump in 2020, dismissing talk of her higher political ambitions. Trump on Tuesday disputed that the outgoing ambassador had a Senate campaign in mind.

"You have two really good ones right there right now, so I don’t see her doing that," Trump said.

"Lindsey’s a popular guy and Tim [Scott (R-S.C.)] is a popular guy … and Nikki doesn’t have that in mind at all," he added.

Trump praised Graham for his performance in recent weeks as the South Carolina Republican emerged as one of the most fervent defenders of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Progressives hope to avoid drug-pricing showdown with Pelosi | 'Medicare for All' backers get high-profile hearing | Dems take victory lap after eliminating drug protections in trade deal Justices grapple with multibillion-dollar ObamaCare case Potential Dem defectors face pressure on impeachment MORE. Graham earned plaudits from conservatives for his fiery rebuke of Democrats' handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing late last month.

Hours before Trump formally announced Haley would exit the administration at the end of 2018, Graham told reporters in South Carolina that he has "zero interest" in serving in the Cabinet.

"I like him, I want to help him, I want him to be successful," Graham said. "I think I can do more good for the country and help President Trump more effectively by being in the Senate.”

Graham is up for reelection in 2020.