Lindsey Graham, who begged for cash on Fox News, tells Sean Hannity he will give Trump $500,000

Graham baselessly claims that Philadelphia's elections were "crooked as a snake" and "dead people" voted in Nevada

Published November 6, 2020 8:07PM (EST)

 Committee chairman U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  (Stefani Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images)
Committee chairman U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (Stefani Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who earlier this week won re-election to a fourth term, told Fox News host and Trump "pillow-talk" pal Sean Hannity on Thursday that "nothing is off the table" when it comes to challenging the results of a democratically-held presidential election. To boot, Graham pledged half a million dollars to the President Donald Trump's "defense legal fund." 

"I'm here tonight to stand with President Trump," Graham told Hannity. "He stood with me. He's the reason we're going to have a Senate majority . . . He helped Senate Republicans. We're going to pick up House seats because of the campaign that President Trump won."

Graham ignored one basic fact: Trump has not won the election. (He currently trails in must-win states as outstanding ballots continue to be tabulated. He also is more than 4 million ballots down in the popular vote.)

"I'm going to donate $500,000 tonight to President Trump's defense legal fund," Graham then revealed. 

"I've been on your show," he told Hannity. "You've raised a ton of money for me. Your audience was incredibly helpful to Lindsey Graham dot com. Give to Donald J. Trump dot com so we will have the resources to fight. The allegations of wrongdoing are earth-shattering. It makes the Carter warrant, Page application, Carter warrant, uh — Carter Page warrant application look on the up and up."

Over the final weeks of his Senate campaign, Graham, at times out-raised two-to-one by Democratic rival Jaime Harrison, took to begging for campaign donations on Fox News shows, including Hannity's primetime program. He also appeared to violate Senate ethics rules and federal law when he solicited contributions in the Senate building after a round of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

"I don't know how much it affected fundraising today, but if you want to help me close the gap," he told reporters outside the hearing room. "Lindsey Graham dot com — a little bit goes a long way."

Graham, fresh off a victory in the most hotly contested and high-profile election of his political career, announced his Hannity appearance after the president's eldest adult son, Donald Trump Jr., called out the Palmetto State Republican for not defending his father on Twitter.

"No one is surprised," Don Jr. wrote.

The president has repeatedly lied that he has already won the election, claiming that victory was stolen from him because officials continued to count lawfully count votes after he baselessly declared himself the winner early Wednesday morning.

"If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us," Trump told reporters during a Thursday press conference at the White House.

There is no evidence of illegal voting, and judges have summarily dismissed some of the Trump campaign's lawsuits within hours of filing.

Trump's baseless claims were met with unusually fierce criticism from fellow Republicans, some of whom warned that his rhetoric was not only "insane" but also "dangerous."

"We want every vote counted, yes every legal vote (of course). But, if you have legit concerns about fraud present EVIDENCE and take it to court," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., tweeted on Thursday. "STOP Spreading debunked misinformation . . . This is getting insane."

During the Hannity interview, Graham, who said that the Trump campaign had plans to brief Republican lawmakers on Saturday, called on his party colleagues to step up.

When Hannity asked whether Graham, in his capacity as a lawyer, thought that Pennsylvania state Republican lawmakers should appoint their own electors regardless of the final vote, Graham said "everything should be on the table." He also claimed, without evidence, that Philadelphia elections operations were "crooked as a snake" and that there were "a lot of dead people voting" in Nevada.

"Philadelphia elections are crooked as a snake," he said. "Why are they shutting people out? Because they don't want people to see what they're doing. But you're talking about a lot of dead people voting. You're talking about — in Nevada — people voting who are not legal residents."

Graham praised the system in Arizona, where Trump still trails in the count, and complimented Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, for his honesty.

"I trust Arizona," Graham said. "I don't trust Philadelphia. I don't trust what's going on in Nevada. So everything should be on the table."

"Let's stand with President Trump. He stood with us," Graham added. "And this reminds me of the Carter Page warrant application, where they're just trying to get an outcome — damn the law, damn the process."

As Hannity lauded Graham's $500,000 pledge, the senator began to plug the president's campaign website: "Donald J Trump dot com. Five bucks from a million people goes a long way."

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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