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

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19 breakthrough case 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.”

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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 TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal 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.”

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats 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 BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal 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."