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Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Additional airlines ban guns on flights to DC ahead of inauguration MORE (R-S.C.) signaled he intends to support President TrumpDonald TrumpCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Azar in departure letter says Capitol riot threatens to 'tarnish' administration's accomplishments Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit MORE and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi mum on when House will send impeachment article to Senate Democratic senator: COVID-19 relief is priority over impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history 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 GinsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg, George Floyd among options for 'Remember the Titans' school's new name Bipartisan anger builds over police failure at Capitol Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as 'sound choice' to serve as attorney general 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 KavanaughWhy we need Section 230 more than ever 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Murkowski says she is not considering joining Democratic caucus 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 GarlandBiden's new challenge: Holding Trump accountable Graham says he'll back Biden's CIA pick A Democratic agenda for impossibly hard times 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 ReidThe Memo: Democrats scorn GOP warnings on impeachment Trump, Biden face new head-to-head contest in Georgia The fight begins over first primary of 2024 presidential contest MORE changed the rules to allow a simple majority vote for Circuit Court nominees dealing out the minority" and "Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Democrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial 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.