Lindsey Graham excoriated for equating Trump accountability with divisive "vengeance"

"How do you lecture about 'unity' and 'healing' after seeking to end American democracy?"

By Jon Queally
January 20, 2021 2:54PM (UTC)
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questions U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on the State Department's 2021 budget in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on July 30, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images)

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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was roundly denounced Sunday after sending a letter to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer that characterized President Donald Trump's pending trial as "vengeance" and "political retaliation" that he argued would further divide the nation.

While the U.S. House impeached Trump for his role in inciting a violent mob of his supporters to storm the nation's capitol building on Jan. 6 — an insurrectionist effort unparalleled in U.S. history that left at least five people dead — Graham argues in his letter that Schumer, if he proceeds with a trial in the Senate, would be guilty of "one more unconstitutional action in this disgraceful saga" that he said would only "incite further division."

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However, critics of Graham immediately pounced on the South Carolina Republican for his faulty logic and the disgraceful nature of the letter.

"Lindsey Graham should take the first step towards healing and resign," quipped People for Bernie in response.

"This is basically extortionate: Sorry, no unity until the demands for accountability are dropped," wrote Washington Post political correspondent Greg Sargent. "The answer to this is 'No. You are the ones who have committed the offense. You don't get to set one-sided conditions for unity after what you did.'"

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Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., unleashed on Graham in a series of tweets, citing the Republican's own behavior that fostered Trump's lies about the outcome of the 2020 election and his long history of two-faced accommodation to Trump's anti-democratic authoritarianism.

"Graham," said Beyer, "pressured election officials in Georgia to throw out lawful ballots and overturn the result." He then added:

Journalist Rachel Bitecofer noted that what Graham is essentially, if not illogically, arguing in his letter to Schumer is "that those responsible for the attack on the Capitol will be held responsible if the Senate lets the main person responsible evade responsibility." But, she adds, "he fails to consider his own culpability at all — which is significant since he lied about fraud."

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Likewise, Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., said that it's nearly impossible to take the words of Graham seriously given the role that he, along with so many of his Republican colleagues in Congress, have said and done to the nation in recent months — including those who voted against the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win.

"For months, GOP leaders spread lies about the election," Pascrell tweeted Sunday in response to Graham's letter. "Acting on those lies, fascists ransacked the Capitol and *hours later* 138-of-202 (68%) House republicans voted to make trump a dictator."

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"Nothing Republican leaders say about unity," he added, "is worth a nickel."


Jon Queally

Jon Queally is managing editor for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @jonqueally

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Capitol Riot Common Dreams Donald Trump Impeachment Lindsey Graham Senate