‘When they do provocative things, they’re going to be met with provocation’: Lindsey Graham blames progressive Democrats in his stalwart defense of Trump and his rhetoric

  • Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina launched a staunch defense of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and suggested a group of newly-elected progressive lawmakers who oppose Trump’s policies acted in a way that was bound “to be met with provocation.”
  • “He’s fighting back,” Graham said of Trump on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “But I don’t remember anybody treating [the late Republican Sen. John McCain] the way they’re treating Trump. I don’t remember John McCain having to go through this crap everyday, all the time.”
  • Graham’s comments come one day after a racist chant broke out amongst Trump supporters at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina.
  • Graham also posited on Twitter that Republican presidential candidates and presidents “will be accused of being racist,” regardless of their policies: “It comes with the territory, unfortunately.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina launched a staunch defense of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and suggested a group of newly-elected progressive lawmakers who oppose Trump’s policies acted in a way that was bound “to be met with provocation.”

“He’s fighting back,” Graham said of Trump on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “But I don’t remember anybody treating [the late Republican Sen. John McCain] the way they’re treating Trump. I don’t remember John McCain having to go through this crap everyday, all the time.”

Graham’s comments come one day after a racist chant broke out amongst Trump supporters at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina. The chant, “send her back,” began after Trump remarked against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and “the Squad” – a group of four freshman Democratic lawmakers who have clashed with Trump on social media and on Capitol Hill over political differences, namely immigration policy.

Trump paused mid-speech for roughly 13 seconds while the crowd chanted its nativist sentiment. The chant was widely condemned by lawmakers and political personalities from both parties. On Thursday morning Trump said he denounced the chant and was “very unhappy” with what was transpired.

The chant came days after Trump suggested on Twitter that Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Then-candidate Donald Trump reads out Sen. Lindsey Graham's personal phone number during a campaign rally in July 2015.

caption
Then-candidate Donald Trump reads out Sen. Lindsey Graham’s personal phone number during a campaign rally in July 2015.
source
Twitter/@briantashman

Read more: ‘It’s un-American’: Conservatives are calling out the ‘send her back’ chants at Trump’s rally

Omar is the only one of those four congresswomen of color who was born outside the US. She is originally from Somalia and fled the civil war to seek asylum in the US in 1995 when she was 10 years old. Omar became a naturalized citizen at age 17 and was eventually elected to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in 2019.

Graham said that while the congresswomen were “all American citizens entitled to their voice,” he believed “when they do provocative things, they’re going to be met with provocation.”

“This is a two-way street, not a one-way street,” Graham told reporters.

“I’ve said before that if you’re a [Somalian] refugee wearing a [Make America Great] hat, he doesn’t want to send you back,” Graham sad. “He’d probably have dinner at the White House. What does that tell me, its about the criticism and the critic.”

Graham also posited on Twitter that Republican presidential candidates and presidents “will be accused of being racist,” regardless of their policies: “It comes with the territory, unfortunately.”

In 2015, before Trump was elected, Graham was an outspoken critic of the business mogul’s presidential campaign. After announcing he was running for the Republican nomination, Graham described Trump as a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” during his brief campaign.

After Trump was elected, Graham said Trump “beat me like a drum” on the campaign trail, and he became one of the president’s most ardent supporters. Graham has advanced Trump’s crucial policies through the Senate and continues to characterize his support as a Republican lawmaker’s price of admission.

“He won,” Graham said on ABC’s “The View” in January 2017. “Guess what? He’s our president.”