(The Center Square) – South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, said Thursday the president’s legacy was tarnished by the actions of “domestic terrorists” who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Graham, a Republican, said he does not support invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office, but he called on Trump and his team to stop peddling misinformation about the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“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 on Capitol Hill. “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, and that needs to stop.”
Graham said he did not regret his previous support of and positive relationship with Trump. Citing conservative wins such as security along the U.S.-Mexico border, hundreds of appointed conservative judges and a record-breaking COVID-19 vaccine, Graham said Trump has had “an amazing four years.”
“Deregulating the economy, cutting taxes, historic Mideast peace agreements, the destruction of the caliphate – on and on and on – was tarnished by yesterday,” Graham said.
Reiterating his acknowledgement of Joe Biden as the president-elect of the United States, Graham chided fellow Senate Republicans who joined the effort to reject results of the Electoral College.
“To my colleagues who objected yesterday: you didn't do anything illegal. The law allows you to do what you did. I respect your ability to do it. I disagree with what you were trying to do,” Graham said.
Before the Electoral College objection debate, Graham had said he would listen to the objections of his colleagues, but there would need to be substantial evidence to support claims that state and federal courts had found insufficient to overturn election results.
As several high-level Trump administration officials, including Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, resigned Thursday, Graham urged high-level staff and cabinet members to stay on to assist with a peaceful transition to the Biden administration
Most scorchingly, Graham decried the failures of Capitol security.
“How could they fail so miserably? We're 20 years after 9-11. Yesterday they could have blown the building up. They could have killed us all. They could have destroyed the government,” Graham said.
“People coming through the windows had backpacks as big as my desk on the Senate,” he said. “Those backpacks could have had bombs chemical agents, weapons. We dodged a major bullet yesterday.”
Graham called for the creation of a task force to identify every person who breached Capitol security, saying he was interviewed by the FBI on Thursday morning.
“This shall never happen again,” he said.