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

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSchumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress California governor's office says focus is on wildfires, not Trump's 'inane and uninformed tweets' Republicans push back on Trump’s threat to withhold California funding amid wildfire 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 TrumpMichael Cohen: I pray Michelle Obama's words will unite country again Michelle Obama: ‘I stopped even trying to smile’ during Trump’s inauguration Trump wants to end federal relief money for Puerto Rico: report MORE fired Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself Christie: Trump has not asked me to be attorney general Pelosi: 'What Mueller might not think is indictable could be impeachable' 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 RosensteinDem leaders request formal update from DOJ on whether Whitaker should recuse himself How Trump can pull off ultimate trick to make Mueller disappear Dems race to protect Mueller probe MORE appointed Mueller after Trump fired former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHow Trump can pull off ultimate trick to make Mueller disappear Comey talked about sensitive FBI matters on personal email: report With Matthew Whitaker playing Roy Cohn, DOJ could be Trump’s personal law firm 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.”