Graham defends opposition to Jan. 6 pardons after Trump calls him a ‘RINO’
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday defended his stance against offering pardons to Jan. 6, 2021, defendants a day after former President Trump called him a “RINO,” an acronym that means “Republican In Name Only.”
“I stand with the police officers who protect our streets, federal courthouses, and the United States Capitol against rioters. They deserve our respect and support and I will not second-guess the decisions they made under dire circumstances,” the senator said in a statement.
However, he emphasized that Americans needed to have a unified voice against “politically motivated violence.”
“All Americans are entitled to have a speedy trial and their day in court, but those who actively engage in violence for whatever political cause must be held accountable and not be forgiven,” Graham said.
The remarks from Graham follow comments that Trump made during an interview with Newsmax on Tuesday night. Trump was responding to an interview that Graham did last weekend on CBS’s “Face the Nation” in which he called it “inappropriate” to offer pardons to the defendants of the Jan. 6 riot — an idea floated by Trump at a rally.
“You talked about the potential, if it’s appropriate, of pardoning some of the January 6ers,” Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt asked the former president. “Lindsey Graham said a couple days later, he thinks that’s inappropriate. What do you think?”
“Well, Lindsey Graham’s wrong. I mean, Lindsey’s a nice guy, but he’s a RINO. Lindsey’s wrong,” Trump said.
“Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about if he says that,” Trump added later in the interview.
The remarks are surprising from Trump, given that Graham is considered one of the former president’s closest allies in the Senate. He has often used the acronym “RINO” to refer to other Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who also told reporters on Tuesday that he was against pardoning Jan. 6 rioters.
“I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes,” the Senate GOP leader said.
“The election of 2020 was decided Dec. 14 of 2020 when the Electoral College certified the winner of the election. What we saw here on January the 6th was an effort to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another, which has never happened before in our country,” McConnell added.