Graham: Trashing Trump is not the way to honor McCain

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Democrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' MORE (R-S.C.) is defending his response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE's criticism of his friend, the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainStephen Miller hits Sunday show to defend Trump against racism charges Michelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Meghan McCain shares story of miscarriage MORE (R-Ariz), saying he does not believe the only way to honor McCain is to distance himself from Trump.

"I’m not into this idea the only way you can help honor John McCain is to trash out Trump," he said in an interview with CNN that aired Wednesday. 

He added that his agenda is to both honor McCain and help Trump. 

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“My agenda is twofold, to honor my friend for the rest of my life in every way I can and help this president be successful," he said.

“President Trump has been good to me,” Graham added. “He’s allowed me in his world, he’s made decisions I think based on some input I’ve given him.” 

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Trump last week doubled down on previous criticism of McCain, who died of brain cancer last year. He told reporters he was "never a fan of John McCain" and that he "never will be." He also said the McCains failed to properly acknowledge Trump's role in the late senator's state funeral.

Graham, a staunch Trump ally, has taken criticism for not speaking forcefully against Trump's critique. 

“Lindsey Graham spent years as the sidekick to John McCain,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesWendy Davis launches bid for Congress in Texas 3,100 to be released from prison under criminal justice reform law House Democrats delete tweets attacking each other, pledge to unify MORE (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference on Tuesday. “And then Donald Trump gets elected, and Donald Trump continues to bash John McCain in reprehensible ways, and Lindsey Graham, on the issue, is in the witness protection program.”

Graham has said he had a private conversation with Trump about McCain, and told CNN's Kate Bolduan, "I could give a damn what he thinks about me and John McCain."