Sen. Lindsey Graham blames Trump for Capitol riots and says the president needs to 'understand that his actions were the problem'

Advertisement
Sen. Lindsey Graham blames Trump for Capitol riots and says the president needs to 'understand that his actions were the problem'
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks during a news conference in Washington on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized President Donald Trump on Thursday after the riots at the US Capitol.
  • "When it comes to accountability, the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution," Graham said.
  • Graham said he was "embarrassed and disgusted" about Wednesday's breach, and described the perpetrators as "domestic terrorists" that need to be prosecuted.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham sharply criticized President Donald Trump on Thursday in the aftermath of the riots at the US Capitol.

"When it comes to accountability, the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution," Graham said during a news conference, adding that the president's legacy has been "tarnished."

"It breaks my heart that my friend, a president of consequence, would allow yesterday to happen and it will be a major part of his presidency," he said. "It was a self-inflicted wound."

Advertisement

A prominent ally to Trump, the South Carolina senator was also critical of the president on Wednesday evening, saying that "enough is enough" after rioters breached the Capitol building and forced Congress to evacuate.

Graham echoed his sentiment on Thursday, and slammed Trump's legal team for pushing false claims about the election after President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner.

"There's been a constant effort by people from the president's legal team to provide misinformation, to distort the facts, to make accusations that cannot be proven. That needs to stop," Graham said on Thursday.

Advertisement

"The rally yesterday was unseemly, it got out of hand, and a good friend of mine Rudy Giuliani did not help," he added. Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, led his campaign's legal challenges against the 2020 election, all of which have failed. On Wednesday, before the chaos erupted at the Capitol, Giuliani called for "trial by combat."

Despite the criticism, Graham said he doesn't believe invoking the 25th Amendment, which would remove Trump from office, is "appropriate at this point" and that he's "looking for a peaceful transfer of power."

Before Wednesday, Graham had stood by Trump, did not publicly acknowledge his election loss and even backed his allegations. When reporters on Thursday pressed him on topic, Graham deflected the question.

Advertisement

"I said last night, Joe Biden is the president, he won. The Constitution worked," Graham said.

A foe of Trump on the 2016 campaign trail, the senator grew close to the president over his four years in office. As recently as December, the two went golfing together at Trump's property in Florida.

"I have absolutely no regrets of helping this president make us safer, more prosperous. I've enjoyed my relationship with him," he said. "I hate that it ends this way."

Advertisement

Graham said he was "embarrassed and disgusted" over Wednesday's breach, and that he will urge the Justice Department to prosecute the perpetrators, who he called "domestic terrorists."

"The people sitting in the chairs [of the House and Senate chambers] need to be sitting in a jail cell," Graham said. "The people who attacked the Capitol police need to be charged with attacking a police officer. Sedition may be a charge for some of these people."

{{}}