Former President Donald Trump speaks to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during an event in the East Room of the White House on November 6, 2019.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- Lindsey Graham doubled down on his disagreement with Donald Trump over pardons for the January 6 rioters.
- Graham released a statement on Wednesday saying the rioters should “not be forgiven.”
- This was after Trump blasted Graham for breaking with him on the issue, calling Graham a “RINO.”
On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham again broke with former President Donald Trump, releasing a new statement doubling down on his position that the Capitol rioters should not receive pardons of any kind.
“I reject politically motivated violence in all forms. Those who take the law into their own hands for political reasons — whether they are Antifa, Black Lives Matter protestors, the Proud Boys, or others — must be held accountable,” Graham said, calling for the January 6 rioters to be “held accountable.”
“I was in the Capitol on January 6 and know it was one of the darkest days in American history,” he added.
“For us to remain a nation of laws, not men, we must speak with one voice when it comes to politically motivated violence,” Graham wrote. “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.”
Trump first suggested that the rioters might be pardoned during a January 29 rally in Conroe, Texas.
“If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly,” Trump told supporters at the “Save America” rally. “And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.”
On Sunday, Graham appeared on “Face the Nation” and said it was “inappropriate” for the former president to suggest the rioters be pardoned.
“I don’t want to send any signal that it was OK to defile the Capitol,” Graham said. “There are other groups with causes that may want to go down the violent path if these people get pardoned.”
On Tuesday, Trump responded to Graham’s comments during an interview with Newsmax host Rob Schmitt.
“Lindsey Graham’s wrong. Lindsey’s a nice guy, but he’s a RINO,” he said, using the acronym for “Republican in name only.”
“Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” Trump continued.
Until recently, Graham was one of the former president’s staunchest allies in the Senate, saying in January that he would not back Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell unless the latter had a “working relationship” with Trump. The South Carolina senator is one of Trump’s regular golfing buddies and took credit in January for talking Trump out of canceling his press conference at Mar-a-Lago, which was initially slated for January 6, 2022.
Meanwhile, other high-profile Republicans have also publicly disagreed with Trump on possible pardons for the January 6 rioters. McConnell this week said he “would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences” of the rioters. And New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu also broke with Trump, saying during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the rioters shouldn’t be pardoned.
“I don’t care whether you were part of burning cities in Antifa in 2020 or you were storming the Capitol in 2021. Everybody needs to be held fairly accountable across. That’s part of leadership,” Sununu said.
The authorities have charged 768 people with crimes related to the Capitol riot, and at least 178 people have pleaded guilty.