In the lead up to the 2016 election, there was no major Republican who was as critical of Donald Trump as Senator Lindsey Graham. He refused to endorse Trump. He stated that Trump did not have the temperament or judgment to be the Commander in Chief. He called him a kook. He said he was mentally unfit. He warned that Trump would tear the party apart and that he would not only divide the country, but conservatism. He was right, too.
On the day Trump won the nomination, Lindsey Graham tweeted the following:
If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) May 3, 2016
He voted wrote in Evan McMullin for President and said that endorsing Trump “is like being shot in the head.”
Graham didn’t stop criticizing Trump after the election, either. In January, Graham criticized Trump for suggesting that 3 million people voted illegally. “That shakes confidence in our democracy,” he said. He warned Trump about undermining our intelligence community. In February, he said that the Trump budget would be dead on arrival. In confirmation hearings with Neil Gorsuch, he reminded the nominee that impeachment power sits with the Senate, a veiled threat to Donald Trump. He has scolded Trump for his tweets, and Donald Trump in return has blasted Lindsey Graham on Twitter on several occasions. As recently as August, Graham took Trump to task for his comments after Charlottesville:
“Because of the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy, you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country. For the sake of our nation — as our President — please fix this.”
In short: Lindsey Graham absolutely despised Donald Trump.
But then something happened. More recently, they have been playing golf together. A couple of weeks ago, Graham defended Trump. “What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook not fit to be president,” using almost the exact words Graham used earlier to condemn Trump.
Then yesterday, Graham tweeted this:
What is going on? That is a tweet that Trump could have tweeted himself. Graham is promoting the President’s golf course! He’s playing buddy-buddy with a guy he loathed not so long ago. That is not a tweet that the Lindsey Graham of 2016 or even August of 2017 would have written. It doesn’t make any sense. Lindsay Graham’s best friend in the Senate, John McCain, remains highly critical of Trump. The two other Senators with whom Graham aligns most politically, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, have been blasting Trump for months.
And yet, Lindsey Graham completely reverses course, even as Trump’s approval ratings continue to fall, even as he continues to exhibit increasingly erratic behavior. None of this makes sense, and a lot people on Twitter are suggesting that Trump has dirt on Graham. They’re peddling conspiracy theories, but in this case — given the abrupt about face — it’s an explanation that makes sense.
Et tu, @LindseyGrahamSC? Et tu? It's ok that you had fun golfing, but the presidency's not supposed to be for profit (so.. ix-nay on the pectactular-say, kay-oay?)— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 10, 2017
This is all very befuddling. I mean, I’m not fan of Lindsey Graham’s politics, but for a while, he was the only guy in the Senate standing up to Trump, and now? He’s calling for a special counsel to investigate the Uranium One deal and Hillary Clinton’s ties to Russia. He’s not up for reelection until 2020, so none of this makes a lick of sense.