Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Democrat says he will 'settle' for less aggressive gun control reform 'because that will save lives' Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE (R-SC) said he expects to see law enforcement take a zero-tolerance approach in response to any violent behavior during a right-wing rally slated for Washington, D.C., this weekend. 

The rally, in support of rioters arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, is scheduled for Saturday afternoon and is expected to draw hundreds of people to the nation's capital. 

“They need to take a firm line, buddy,” Graham told The New York Times of the local police presence at the event. “If anybody gets out of line, they need to whack 'em.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Department of Homeland Security reportedly expects about 700 people to attend the weekend rally, and crews began constructing security fencing and barriers around the Capitol complex in anticipation of the large crowd's arrival. 

Local police departments and federal officials say they remain on high alert ahead of the event, dubbed "Justice for J6," which some Republican lawmakers have either not acknowledged or downplayed. 

“I don’t expect a lot of people there,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) told the Times. “I haven’t heard anything about it. I will not be there.”

The rally comes as some Republican leaders work to move on from the violent events of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. 

“Republicans want the midterms to be a referendum on Biden,” GOP strategist Alex Conant told The Hill this week. “The Democrats will want it to be about Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE. It’s clear that every Democrat is going to do what Newsom did in California and try to make their own reelection about the former president.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Former Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (R-Ky.) said he is confident police will be “equipped to handle” any scenario that plays out on Saturday. 

Graham, once a close ally of Trump's, voted to certify President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE's victory following the attack on the Capitol and the day after the insurrection said Trump's legacy was "tarnished" by the incident. 

"The president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution," Graham said at the time. "The rally yesterday was unseemly, it got out of hand."