National Security

Trump: ‘RINO’ Graham ‘wrong’ on pardoning Jan. 6 rioters

Former President Trump in a new interview called Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a “RINO” and said the Republican senator was “wrong” to say that pardoning those who took part in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection was “inappropriate.”

Trump made his comments during an interview with Newsmax that aired Tuesday night. The former president was responding to remarks Graham, a longtime Trump ally, made on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

During Graham’s Sunday show appearance, a clip was played of Trump telling attendees at a rally in Texas that if he ran for and won the presidency again, he would “treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly” and give out pardons if need be.

When Graham was asked if he agreed, he replied, “No, I don’t want to send any signal that it was OK to defile the Capitol.”

“I think it’s inappropriate. … I don’t want to do anything that would make this more likely in the future,” he later added.

Trump was asked in his interview on Newsmax what he thought of Graham’s comments.

“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, using the acronym for “Republican In Name Only.”

“Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about if he says that,” Trump added later.

In a statement on Wednesday, the South Carolina senator defended his opposition to pardons for Jan. 6 defendants, saying, “As a conservative, I firmly believe in law and order and support the police.”

“For us to remain a nation of laws, not men, we must speak with one voice when it comes to politically motivated violence,” Graham said. “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 is not the only Republican to disagree with pardoning those who participated in the Jan. 6 riot. 

“I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday.

“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,” he added.

While McConnell has at times drawn the ire of Trump and has been referred to as a “RINO” by the former president, Graham has been considered one of Trump’s closest allies in the Senate. 

But the comments illustrate the delicate balance that GOP members are trying to maintain with Trump while also condemning the violence that took place more than a year ago at the Capitol.  

Updated on Feb. 2 at 11:09 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Jan 6 Lindsey Graham Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell

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