After the acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke with Donald Trump and said the former president is ‘excited’ for 2022.
On Fox News Sunday, the Republican from South Carolina told Chris Wallace that the former president was grateful to his lawyers but “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party.”
“He’s excited about 2022, and I’m going to go down to talk with him next week, play a little golf in Florida,” Graham said, adding that he told Trump, “this MAGA movement needs to continue.”
When asked if he felt Trump bore any responsibility for the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Graham said, “No, in terms of the law, no. He bears responsibility [for] pushing narratives about the election that I think are not sound and not true, but this was politically protected speech. The speech on January the sixth was not an incitement to violence. Every politician has used the word fight, fight hard, so I don’t think that he caused the riot.”
“Could the president have done more? Yes,” Graham added. “Did he incite this riot by his speech? Absolutely not.”
“We need Trump plus and at the end of the day,” he said. “I’ve been involved in politics for over 25 years, the president is a handful, and what happened on Jan. 6 was terrible for the country, but he’s not singularly to blame.”
Graham went further, questioning whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was aware there was a threat to the Capitol before the riot took place.
“There was a preplanned element to this attack, Mr. Wallace, that we need to look at,” he said. “Did Nancy Pelosi know on January the fifth that there was a threat to the Capitol? What did President Trump do after the attack? We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time.”
On Saturday, the Senate voted to acquitte Trump with 57-43 votes in favor of the conviction, but the Senate did not have the required two-thirds majority. It was the second acquittal of the former president, coming about a year after he was acquitted of two articles of impeachment accusing him of corruption and obstruction of Congress.