Graham: Trashing Trump is not the way to honor McCain

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLincoln Project mocks Lindsey Graham's fundraising lag with Sarah McLachlan-themed video The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (R-S.C.) is defending his response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE's criticism of his friend, the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat Analysis: Biden victory, Democratic sweep would bring biggest boost to economy The Memo: Trump's strengths complicate election picture 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 JeffriesDemocratic leaders: Supreme Court fight is about ObamaCare Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Races heat up for House leadership posts 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."