From maverick to leading Trump ally: BuzzFeed examines Lindsey Graham’s shift

“What the hell happened to Lindsey Graham?” is the very good headline on a very good BuzzFeed piece on a question that I’ve wondered about myself.

Graham, in his days as John McCain’s best buddy in the Senate, used to be the other maverick — willing to break party stereotypes and make common cause with centrist Democrats to create to create various “gangs” (gangs of bipartisan possibilities to break deadlocks on important issues, including immigration), and he was among the loudest Republican critics of Trump (“If we nominate Trump we will get destroyed … and we will deserve it”).

Now he’s a leading Trump ally, and went bonkers during the Brett Kavanagh hearings.

BuzzFeed reporter Paul McLeod goes through the possible explanations, including political survival instincts and genuine anger during the Kavanaugh hearings. Whichever it is, Graham’s approval ratings among South Carolina Republicans jumped 20 points during those hearing, leading to this quote in the McLeod piece:

Lindsey’s political fortunes have completely turned,” said Matt Moore, former chair of the South Carolina Republican Party. “There were serious questions about whether the senator would face a credible primary opponent next year. Those questions have gone away. You’d have to be an absolute idiot to try to primary Lindsey Graham in 2020.

Graham is now traveling to other states to campaign against some of the Democratic senators who used to be his buddies.

Oh, and by the way, Graham has recently become chair of the Judiciary Committee.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/17/2019 - 01:20 pm.

    “…Oh, and by the way, Graham has recently become chair of the Judiciary Committee.”

    Translation: It doesn’t matter what kinds of charges are brought against Mr. Trump at his impeachment nearings in the House – assuming those occur – Graham will not allow him to actually be removed from office before the election of 2020.

    If Trump loses the election, he will be able to whine all the way to his grave that the election was rigged (all the while failing to mention the efforts of his own campaign to rig at least the 2016 election his way). Apparently, Graham will fall in line. Maybe, like Trump seems to owe his soul to Russian oligarchs, Graham owes a big-time debt to Trump for… something we don’t know about. Just guessing…

    • Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 01/18/2019 - 11:09 am.

      Chair of the Judiciary Committee is a step down: Graham really wanted to be the next Attorney General. Either way, Trump does actively seek out those who will do or say anything to protect Trump from facing legal consequences for his lifetime of criminal behaviors.

      If one pays close attention to the Russian conspiracy info, it is becoming clearer by the day who leans towards Russia, and is either receiving monetary rewards from then in one way or another – or is now professing love for them (and Trump, their puppet) because the Ruskies have something on these individuals so have them under their thumb. One train of thought is that with Trump it’s the pee pee tape, with Graham it’s his non-traditional sexual orientation. But the reason(s) why are less important than the fact that these guys will switch their allegiances and stances and public opinions and congressional votes on a dime. They are, therefore, not to be trusted in any way and especially not in an high level position of authority.

  2. Submitted by cory johnson on 01/17/2019 - 03:21 pm.

    I think it’s fair to say he had enough of the insane behavior of the Democrats since 2016 and the Kavanaugh hit job was the final straw. It’s funny how liberals get shocked when their lies and deception make people finally fight back.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 01/18/2019 - 10:17 am.

      It’s the Democrats that made Graham change his attitude about Trump from thinking he’s a race-baiting xenophobic bigot who doesn’t represent the Republican Party, to someone worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize?

      Of course, it’s always been obvious that the Democrats are to blame for Graham’s change of heart about judges who commit perjury.

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 01/19/2019 - 08:01 pm.

        “It’s funny how liberals get shocked when their lies and deception make people finally fight back.’

        Maye it’s even funnier when people who fight back when they’re shocked by lies and deception are denounced as “liberals.” Graham has been a reliable “weatherman” or more accurately , ‘flip-flopper” on many issues for many years depending on which way he thinks the political wind is blowing. Like many a “conservative Republican”, one would be hard pressed to find what principles the man really does stand for rather than against, particularly at any given moment.

  3. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 01/17/2019 - 04:48 pm.

    It sounds to me that Mr. Black and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar got the same talking points memo.

  4. Submitted by Paul Yochim on 01/17/2019 - 04:55 pm.

    Are there any “mavericks” in the Democratic Party? I don’t think so. They wouldn’t last long.

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/17/2019 - 05:34 pm.

    Like Trump, he’s playing to his base. In his case he’s actually won elections, and wants to keep on doing it. He’ll be there when Trump is gone, but may not be a committee chair after 2020 if the Republicans lose the Senate.

  6. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/18/2019 - 07:53 am.

    You ask why ?

    …….In 2015-16, everything changed. Blavatnik’s political contributions soared and made a hard right turn as he pumped $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham…..

    Do donors pressure recipients ? At what point does evidence speak more that money?

    Would a cosmopolitan man like Trump give over his country for a $200 million dollar payday ? Would he cause his lawyer to lie about such dealings? What about the GOP Senate which is the final protection of Trump–how much does Trump’s protection cost ? Why would they fall in craven line to reduce sanctions on Russia in the past week, with little evidence of real change ?

    Money, money, money…

    In this case, like a common criminal–follow the money.

  7. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 01/18/2019 - 08:52 am.

    I don’t know what to make of Senator Graham. The maverick he immolated, Senator McCain, has passed on. It is like Senator Graham doesn’t know what to do all by himself.
    “It’s funny how liberals get shocked when their lies and deception make people finally fight back.” “Are there any “mavericks” in the Democratic Party?” Two awkward statements when Trump, the king of lies and deception, is providing the information some are making decisions from. Democrats and Republicans stated their confidence in Mr. Mueller in the very beginning and he has not given them any reason to change their opinion about him. Mr. Mueller is sorting out the lying and deceptions. He is the only “Maverick” needed. I remind those who don’t know, Mr. Mueller is a Republican who is getting ready to “Drain the swamp.”, wherever that may lead. Looking at the convictions, pleads, and charges, so far, he is doing very well.

  8. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 01/18/2019 - 09:27 am.

    Well folks like us don’t vote in S.C. so we aren’t important. But like the lady said, the optics are, he is compromised, Lost those ethics and the moral compass. Interesting how that works, x-military, once willing to sacrifice their life for their country, now, not willing to leverage a senate seat to a possible primary challenge, what has our country come to? .

  9. Submitted by Nick Foreman on 01/18/2019 - 10:40 am.

    McCain is undoubtedly ashamed of Graham and rolling over in his grave

  10. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 01/18/2019 - 12:06 pm.

    Given Graham’s frequent and unmotivated or explained zigs and zags on whatever issue is on the day’s table, no one can ever say that the Senator has an ounce of integrity left. Poor man.

    He keeps trying to stay with Trump’s whimsical way of doing things by his gut, but Graham simply looks like a fool in the end. Now he despises Trump, now he loves him? And then next day, the reverse again? Please.

    Graham’s “performance” of completely illogical intemperance at the Kavanaugh hearing was a sad show of his attempt to one-up Kavanaugh’s astonishing lack of control–to see which older white man could muster greater anger at the NERVE of some woman or women to accuse Our Judge of having been a boozer and sexual assaulter in his more youthful years, at least.

Leave a Reply