Lindsey Graham says he deals with Trump's 'dark side' because he thinks he has a 'magic' other Republicans don't

Lindsey Graham says he deals with Trump's 'dark side' because he thinks he has a 'magic' other Republicans don't
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 5, 2021 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham told "Axios on HBO" that he still thought Donald Trump was good for the GOP.
  • Graham said Trump had a "dark side" but also a "magic" lacked by other Republicans.
  • He said Trump could make the GOP stronger and more diverse but "also could destroy it."

In an interview with "Axios on HBO" that aired Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said former President Donald Trump had both a "dark side" and a "magic" that other Republicans didn't.

The South Carolina senator went from a critic to a close ally during Trump's four years in office but still doesn't always follow Trump the way some other loyalists do. While he opposed Trump's impeachment after the Capitol riot, Graham said Trump "needs to understand that his actions were the problem."

When Axios' Jonathan Swan asked Graham during the latest interview why he still supported Trump, the senator said he still believed Trump's movement was good for the country.

"Mitt Romney didn't do it, John McCain didn't do it - there's something about Trump," Graham said. "There's a dark side, and there's some magic there. What I'm trying to do is just harness the magic."

Since the January 6 siege by a pro-Trump mob at the US Capitol, not all congressional Republicans have agreed on how the party should move forward. While the vast majority voted against Trump's second impeachment, 10 representatives voted to impeach Trump and seven senators voted to convict him.


Yet Graham told Axios he thought the best way for the Republican Party to move forward with its agenda was "with Trump, not without Trump."

"He could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know could make it," Graham said. "He could make it bigger, he could make it stronger, he could make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it."

Graham told reporters last month that he was meeting with Trump to discuss the future of the Republican Party. He said that he wanted to persuade Trump to help Republicans take back congressional majorities in 2022 but that the party would need to be united.

"If it's about revenge and going after people you don't like, we're going to have a problem," Graham said he would tell Trump.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference late last month, Trump called out the Republicans by name who voted for his impeachment, prompting boos from the crowd.


Trump also told Politico on Saturday that he would be traveling to Alaska to campaign against GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict him, calling her "disloyal" and "very bad."

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