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Graham: Trashing Trump is not the way to honor McCain

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? MORE (R-S.C.) is defending his response to President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE's criticism of his friend, the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCongress brings back corrupt, costly, and inequitably earmarks Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden, lawmakers start down a road with infrastructure 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 JeffriesRace debate grips Congress Cheney: Afghanistan withdrawal a 'huge propaganda victory' for terrorists Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP 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."