Fox News host presses Graham on remark about ‘holy hell’ if Trump fired Sessions

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims MORE (R-S.C.) was pressed Thursday night by a Fox News reporter over his 2017 remarks that there would be "hell to pay" if President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE fired Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump O'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump MORE.

In an interview on "The Story," host Martha MacCallum asked Graham about the comments now that Trump has fired Sessions.

After MacCallum played the clip, Graham laughed and asked when he made the comments.

“So, when was that?” Graham asked. “What year?”

"July of 2017," she answered. "Things have changed."

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Pausing for a moment, Graham said that Trump deserved an attorney general with whom he has "confidence" and said that the relationship between Trump and Sessions had been deteriorating for months.

“What I’ve been saying for months is every president deserves an attorney general they have confidence in and they can work with,” Graham said. “I like Jeff Sessions. I’ve known Jeff for a long time. I hope he goes and runs for his old Senate seat in Alabama. It’s clear to me it’s not working, was not working between Attorney General Sessions and President Trump.”

Graham went on to say that the Senate would continue to protect the special counsel, Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, from undue interference from the White House as he continues his investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Sessions recused himself from Russian matters, and Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Graham says he'll probe Rosenstein's 25th Amendment remarks MORE appointed Mueller after Trump fired former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump says public can see Mueller report Anderson Cooper blasts Trump over McCain attacks: 'He's punching a person who is dead' Clyburn: Trump and family 'greatest threats to democracy' in lifetime MORE.

After firing Sessions, Trump named Matthew Whittaker, who has criticized the Mueller probe repeatedly, as acting attorney general. Whittaker now oversees the probe, and not Rosenstein.

Democrats have called on Whittaker, who was Sessions's chief of staff, to recuse himself from the Russian probe, something the Justice Department has indicated will not happen.

But Graham, who has grown into an increasingly close ally to the president over the past two years, downplayed any suggestion that the changes at Justice will limit or end the Mueller investigation.

“The bottom line is this is hysteria more than anything else,” Graham said. “I am here to tell you and everyone else that Mr. Mueller will be allowed to do his job, and hopefully that investigation will come to a conclusion here pretty soon.”