Graham: Trashing Trump is not the way to honor McCain

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again Graham challenges Dems to walk the walk on impeachment Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars MORE (R-S.C.) is defending his response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE's criticism of his friend, the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era Earth Day founder's daughter: Most Republican leaders believe in climate change in private 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 JeffriesDems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings The Hill's 12:30 Report: Assange faces US charges after dramatic arrest Dem leader: Trump's Fed picks like something out of 'SNL' 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."