On Thursday morning, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the first Somali-American congresswoman, claimed that President Donald Trump is somehow blackmailing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). She tweeted this charge on Wednesday and doubled down on CNN on Thursday.
“So over the last three years, we have seen many times where Senator Lindsey Graham has told us how dangerous this president could be if he was given the opportunity to be in the White House,” Omar argued. “And all of a sudden he has made not only 180 turnaround, but a 360 turnaround.”
“And so I am pretty sure that there is something happening with him,” the congresswoman argued. She supposed that Trump could have blackmailed Graham in one of many ways: “whether it is something that has to do with his funding when it comes to running for office, whether it has something to do with the polling that they might have in his district, or whether it has to do with some sort of leadership within the Senate.”
“He is somehow compromised to no longer stand up for the truth and to make sure that he is fighting to protect the oath that he took in serving the American people,” Omar claimed.
When asked for evidence, the congresswoman merely replied, “The evidence really is present to us. It’s being presented to us in the way that he is behaving.”
Since Graham has never married, some have insisted that he must be homosexual. Omar never mentioned this line of reasoning directly, but some might read this response as a disgusting suggestion that Trump knows Graham’s true sexuality and is using it to keep the senator silent.
To her credit, CNN’s Poppy Harlow shot back, “That’s not evidence. That’s your opinion. Now he is a sitting member of Congress. You tweeted, ‘They got him on this.’ Again, just based on what evidence, congresswoman?”
“My tweet was just an opinion based on what I believe to be visible to me. And I’m pretty sure there are lots of Americans who agree on this,” Omar insisted.
The congresswoman retweeted a video showing Graham attacking Trump in 2015, calling him a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”
I can’t even imagine what they have on Graham.
Senator Lindsey Graham in 2015:
“Donald Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.”
— Qasim Rashid for Congress (@QasimRashid) January 13, 2019
Omar tweeted, “They got to him, he is compromised.”
They got to him, he is compromised! https://t.co/m8sB3EmElg
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 16, 2019
This conspiracy theory did not begin with Ilhan Omar. John Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Coalition super PAC, tweeted that Graham could be subject to blackmail for “some pretty serious kink.”
There are many reasons why Graham has come around to Trump, however, and conspiracy theories are totally unnecessary, as the Washington Examiner‘s Philip Klein reported. The senator is running for re-election in 2020 in a state where Trump’s approval rating is 83 percent among Republicans. A Morning Consult poll found that in the wake of Graham’s powerful defense of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his approval among South Carolina Republicans shot up by 43 points.
Yet Graham’s sea change could also be explained by the increasing radicalization of the Democratic Party, and the hatred directed toward Kavanaugh. The senator himself attributed it to Trump’s success on various policies, like building the military, exiting the Iran deal, destroying the Islamic State, and restructuring the tax code.
Furthermore, as Klein also pointed out, Graham’s insistence that Trump declare a national emergency to fund the border wall echoed his mentor, the late John McCain, who published an ad featuring him walking along the border and declaring, “complete the danged fence.”
Is Graham a cynical politician, or is he genuinely coming around to supporting Trump? Americans may never know, but they need not resort to conspiracy theories to explain the reason.
With all due respect, Ilhan Omar, Trump is not blackmailing Lindsey Graham. And your position on this non-issue is tarnishing your own credibility.
Neither Ilhan Omar nor Lindsey Graham responded to requests for comment on this story.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.