Lindsey Graham (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Lindsey Graham: "The defining issue in 2018" for the Republican Party is Judge Brett Kavanaugh

"I’ve never seen the Republican Party so unified as I do right now," the senator from South Carolina claims


Rachel Leah
October 3, 2018 9:15PM (UTC)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has emerged as one of the most vocal and unrelenting defenders of President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has been accused by at least three women of sexual misconduct. Graham expanded on his support for the judge Wednesday on the second day of The Atlantic Festival when he claimed that the treatment of the judicial candidate has unified the entire Republican Party.

"Whether you’re a Trump Republican, a Bush Republican, a McCain Republican, a libertarian or a vegetarian, you’re pissed," he told Jeffery Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic in Washington. "I’ve never seen the Republican Party so unified as I do right now. The defining issue in 2018 has changed. It’s about this . . . This cannot be the new normal."

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Graham also addressed Trump's disparaging comments about Ford that he made at a campaign rally Tuesday night in Mississippi. The president mocked her account of the details surrounding the alleged sexual assault saying, "How did you get home? I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know."

"Everything he said was factual. He's frustrated his nominee has been treated so badly," Graham said, adding that he "didn't particularly like" Trump's ridicule, and would tell him to "knock it off – you're not helping."

Graham said that, when it came to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, "I listened, and she was heard. And I think she was treated respectfully."

However, in Graham's point of view, the evidence and the witnesses do not corroborate her allegations. "Everything else in the record I know about Brett Kavanaugh is he's not Bill Cosby and he's not Harvey Weinstein," Graham continued. "And, if you're a serial rapist and a gang rapist and drug women in high school, you usually don't get over it."

Graham said that, from his standpoint, Democrats have promoted any form of critique of Kavanaugh, true or not, even if means ruining his life in the process. This includes mounting sexual assault allegations and charging a lack of judicial temperament after the special hearing, but also less significant ones, such as clinging to reports that Kavanaugh threw ice at someone at a bar in college. "Enough," Graham said. "Vote. Don't destroy this man's life."

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READ MORE: Lindsey Graham and Brett Kavanaugh: Welcome to the smoldering ruins of American democracy

"I'm a conservative – proud of it," he continued. "I want conservative judges on the court. When it's our turn to pick – when it's their turn, I've honored their pick."

The audience erupted in loud chatter and displeasure. Someone questioned about Merrick Garland, the Supreme Court nominee who was appointed by former President Barack Obama but blocked by Republicans from moving forward with the confirmation, because it was an election year.

"This may make you feel better, but I really don't care," Graham said. "If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election."

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Rachel Leah

Rachel Leah is a culture writer for Salon. You can follow her on Twitter: @rachelkleah.

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