Trump Calls Lindsey Graham a “RINO”

“Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about…”

Susan Walsh/AP

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Donald Trump, a man with few to no real friends, was quick to label Lindsey Graham a “RINO”—Republican in name only—after learning that the South Carolina senator, one of the former president’s staunchest defenders, mildly criticized his suggestion that he’d pardon those prosecuted for participating in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol if he were to retake the presidency in 2024.

“Well, Lindsey Graham’s wrong,” Trump told Newsmax on Tuesday when presented with Graham’s comments that the idea of pardons for insurrectionists was “inappropriate.”

“I mean, Lindsey’s a nice guy—but he’s a RINO,” Trump said, adding that “Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about if he says that.”

It was the latest turn in the strange friendship between the two men. As a 2016 presidential candidate, Graham famously compared the choice between Trump and Ted Cruz to being “shot or poisoned.” The South Carolina senator also once called Trump a “xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot.” But things dramatically shifted when Trump entered the White House, and Graham swiftly refashioned himself into one of the president’s most impassioned supporters. He told The View in 2018 that he no longer considered Trump a “xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot—as president.” (A video reminder of Graham’s flip-flopping on Trump, below)

So, as Trump re-ups the crazy talk over January 6, could things have finally soured between the golfing buddies? It’s highly, highly unlikely. But at least Trump has always known, to some degree, that he doesn’t have any true friends.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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