Lindsey Graham admits Trump could 'destroy' GOP

In a Sunday interview with Axios, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., described former President Trump's hold over the Republican Party as something of a hostage situation.

The former President, Graham said, "could make the Republican Party something that nobody else I know could make it. He could make it bigger. He could make it stronger. He could make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it."

The Senator continued to describe the former President along the lines of the duality of man. Trump, he said, has both a "dark side" and some "magic" in him. "What I'm trying to do is just harness the magic."

Prior to Trump's nomination in 2016, Sen. Graham had been a staunch critic of the former President, arguing that he was not mentally fit for the role. After Trump was nominated, however, Graham quickly fell into Trump's good graces, becoming one of his most ardent allies.

Although Graham did not support Trump's impeachment, the Senator admitted that Trump "needs to understand that his actions were the problem" leading up the Capitol insurrection.

"Donald Trump was my friend before the riot," Graham said. "And I'm trying to keep a relationship with him after the riot. I still consider him a friend. What happened was a dark day in American history, and we're going to move forward."

He continued, "So here's what you need to know about me: I'm going to continue — I want us to continue the policies that I think will make America strong. I believe that the best way for the Republican Party to do that is with Trump, not without Trump."

The Senator's comments come amid a great reckoning amongst conservatives about Trump's influence in the future of the Republican Party.

Several Republicans, such as Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Sen. Mitt Romney. R-Utah, have expressed an interest in charting a new course without Trump. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has criticized Trump in the past several weeks, but said that he would ultimately support the former President's potential bid in 2024.

Trump has been selective about his endorsements in the upcoming Senate elections. Weeks ago, Trump backed the primary opponent of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, who was one of the ten Senators who voted to impeach him. The former President also endorsed Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C. the only black Republican in the Senate.

Trump has also shown signs of breaking with certain Republican organizations cashing in on his political capital. On Saturday, NBC News reported that the former President's lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to three Republican organizations –– the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Senate Committee –– demanding that they discontinue the usage of Trump's name and likeness.

During Trump's CPAC speech two weeks ago, the former President listed off the names of Congressional Republicans who voted to impeach him, urging his followers to "get rid of them all." He said that the only way to support "our efforts" is to elect Trump-supporting Republicans.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.