With Rudy Giuliani currently incapacitated by an ongoing federal investigation and Matt Gaetz consumed by accusations of child sex trafficking, someone has to be Donald Trump's top public defender. By god, that's Lindsey Graham's music! The South Carolina conservative senator, who once said that Republicans would get "destroyed" and "deserve it" if they nominated Trump, now says the Republican Party basically belongs to former president-turned-blogger.
In an appearance on Fox News on Monday night, Graham told Sean Hannity, "It's impossible for this party to move forward without President Trump being its leader because the people who are conservative have chosen him as their leader."
The message echoed a similar sentiment issued by Graham last Thursday when he was talking to *checks notes* jeez, Sean Hannity again? Graham's name is going to start appearing in the credits as a recurring guest star if he keeps this up. Anyway, he told Hannity last week, "I would just say to my Republican colleagues, can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no."
While Graham is apparently adamant that the Republican Party simply cannot leave Trumpism behind, he appears equally insistent that anyone who questions this must be dealt with, which certainly doesn't seem like the behavior of someone who believes the merits of his beliefs are strong enough to stand on their own. "To try to erase Donald Trump from the Republican Party is insane," Graham told Hannity on Monday. He added, "And the people who try to erase him are going to wind up getting erased."
The vaguely threatening statement comes as Graham's party is getting ready to oust a member of its leadership for not falling in line. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming congresswoman and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is facing a recall vote: On Wednesday, her party will vote on whether to remove her from her position as conference chair for the crime of *checks notes again* acknowledging that the 2020 presidential election results were legitimate and saying it was kind of bad that Trump incited a coup attempt.
While as a senator, Graham won't have a vote on the congresswoman's fate, he certainly isn't going to bat for her in the public sphere. "She's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump,” Graham said of Cheney on last week's Hannity appearance. "I've determined we can't grow without him." To Graham, Cheney has apparently committed the cardinal sin of modern conservatism: She failed to offer unquestioning support of Donald Trump.
In turning himself into a constant fixture on Fox News and defending Trump at every turn, Graham is doing some pretty simple political math. He believes that Trump still holds a significant amount of support among GOP voters, and he wants to try to direct that support. According to The Washington Post, Graham has visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago and the two talk on the phone every day. Graham clearly has decided proximity is power, and to maintain that power, he's got to do Trump's bidding — and make sure that no one undermining it can gain any traction.
"The people have chosen him, not the pundits," said Graham, the guy who has appeared on Fox News twice in the last five days to speak to the network's prime-time host — which certainly sounds like two pundits deciding things for the people, while hoping the millions of viewers will fall in line.