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Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Jaime Harrison raises million in two weeks for South Carolina Senate bid MORE (R-S.C.) signaled he intends to support President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE (R-Ky.) in their efforts to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court this year after the death of Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session Jaime Harrison raises million in two weeks for South Carolina Senate bid Dozens of legal experts throw weight behind Supreme Court term limit bill MORE on Friday. 

The South Carolina senator pointed to recent statements he's made saying that he would back the filling of a vacancy in 2020 before the election. 

“After Kavanaugh, the rules have changed as far as I'm concerned,” Graham said in an August article he highlighted, apparently referencing the acrimony over Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughCollins says running as Independent 'crossed my mind' Clean energy opportunities in a time of crisis Susan Collins and the American legacy MORE’s confirmation in 2018. 

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Graham was a top supporter of Kavanaugh during his confirmation process, which it was upended by sexual assault allegations.

In an article from The Hill Graham referenced, the lawmaker said a vacancy in 2020 would be handled differently than in 2016, when the Senate GOP blocked a pick from former President Obama, because this year the same party controls the Senate and White House. 

“Well, Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandMcConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session Republicans advance Barrett's Supreme Court nomination after Democrats boycott committee vote Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE was a different situation. You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you've got them both would be different. I don't want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020,” Graham said in May.

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When asked for further comment, Graham’s office pointed to his tweet.

The South Carolina lawmaker expounded on the vacancy later in the day, blaming Democrats for changing Senate rules in explaining his reversal from 2016. Graham said he would back a nominee after Senate Democrats removed the 60-vote threshold for circuit court nominees (a move the GOP followed up for Supreme Court nominees in 2017) and worked to block Kavanaugh's confirmation over the sexual misconduct claims.

"The two biggest changes regarding the Senate and judicial confirmations that have occurred in the last decade have come from Democrats," he tweeted. "Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE changed the rules to allow a simple majority vote for Circuit Court nominees dealing out the minority" and "Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerTrump announces opening of relations between Sudan and Israel Five takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference Pelosi calls Iran 'bad actor' but not equivalent to Russia on election interference MORE and his friends in the liberal media conspired to destroy the life of Brett Kavanaugh and hold that Supreme Court seat open."

"In light of these two events, I will support President @realDonaldTrump in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg."

Graham’s remarks come after Democrats flooded social media with video of Graham from 2016 saying he’d uphold the same standard Republicans set that year in 2020. 

“I want you to use my words against me. If there's a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let's let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,” Graham said in the resurfaced video from 2016.

Graham, who is in a competitive reelection races, is just the latest of several GOP senators to say they would support efforts to fill the vacancy this year, and Trump and McConnell have already said they intend to move forward with a nominee.

“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!” Trump tweeted Saturday

“I fully understand where President @realDonaldTrump is coming from,” Graham responded.

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The stance has infuriated Democrats, who are still smarting over McConnell’s efforts to prevent Garland, Obama’s 2016 nominee, from receiving a confirmation hearing after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. 

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted, a verbatim remark from one McConnell gave in 2016 after Scalia’s death.