Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) confirmed in an interview with NBC this morning that he thinks it’s time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to be replaced with someone who can work with Trump as “this relationship is beyond repair,” but vowed that “nobody is going to take Jeff’s place that doesn’t commit to the Senate and the country as a whole that Mueller will be allowed to finish his job without political interference.”
“The president’s lost confidence in Jeff Sessions. And I’m telling you what everybody in the country knows: This is a dysfunctional relationship. We need a better one. Is there somebody who’s highly qualified that has the confidence of the president, will also understand their job is to protect Mueller? Yes, I think we can find that person after the election, if that’s what the president wants,” he added.
The senator had previously said, “If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.”
Graham continued, “Here’s what I believe about Mueller. He’s a fine man. He’s not on a witch hunt. Let him do his job. I’ve seen no evidence of collusion. But I can do a lot of things on behalf of the nation, but I’m not going to be able to convince Donald Trump to be quiet about this. But I am committed to allow Mueller to do his job. And at the end of the day, if there is collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, that will be it for me. Anything else will be just noise.”
As Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) best friend in the Senate, Graham said “literally almost the last thing he said to me was, ‘I love you. I have not been cheated.'”
Graham is expected to speak about McCain on the Senate floor this afternoon, one of a string of tributes from McCain’s colleagues since the six-term senator died Saturday from brain cancer at age 81.
Graham said he’s bringing kleenex with him, since McCain’s “desk is right by mine and that’s what I can’t look” at. McCain’s Senate desk is draped in a black cloth with a simple vase of white roses on top.
When asked if he was bothered by slights from the White House — President Trump refusing questions on the senator until remarks Monday evening, and the White House raising the flag then lowering it again after veterans’ groups called for it to be half-mast out of respect — Graham replied, “It’s all over now. The flag is down.” He said chief of staff John Kelly “has been terrific” and reached out to the McCain family.
Trump, Graham said, is “not the only one to have a tense relationship with John McCain.”
Graham said his current closeness with Trump, including golfing together, is about wanting “to be bridge where I can.” He recalled McCain declaring after his 2008 presidential election loss that Barack Obama was now his president.
“He healed the nation. He’s a fighter, but he could forgive. He was tortured as a prisoner, but led the way to reconcile with Vietnam. So, I’m going to remember that about John,” he added.
“…How the president feels about Senator McCain — it’s his right to feel any way he’d like. I know how America feels about Senator McCain. I know how the Senate feels about Senator McCain. I know how the world feels about Senator McCain, and I know this: I love John McCain.”