Sen. Lindsey Graham said he did not support invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump now but said he might change if there are new developments that warrant it.
“I don’t support invoking the 25th Amendment now. If something else happens, all options would be on the table,” the South Carolina Republican, whose relationship with the president has only recently soured, said during a press conference.
“I do not believe it’s appropriate at this point, we’re looking for a peaceful transfer of power,” he said in remarks at the Capitol.
“All of the president’s accomplishments were tarnished by yesterday,” Graham added. “The president needs to understand his actions were the problem, not the solution.”
Graham decried the failure to defend the Capitol, which was raided by pro-Trump activists Wednesday, saying lethal force should have been used. One woman was indeed killed in the melee.
“Anyone in charge of defending the Capitol failed in their duties,” Graham said.
The 25th Amendment allows for the vice president to take over presidential duties when the president is deemed unfit for office by the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called to invoke the 25th after pro-Trump rioters clashed with security and forced their way into the Capitol during a joint session to certify the presidential results. Trump had spoken to the group hours before, vowing he would “never concede.”
Asked if he would consider invoking the 25th or taking up articles of impeachment to prevent Trump from ever running for office again, Graham said: “I’m not worried about the next election. I’m worried about getting through the next 14 days.”
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The senator said he was “embarrassed and disgusted” that the Capitol could be overtaken by “domestic terrorists,” and joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for the sergeant-at-arms to resign.
“How could that happen 20 years after 9/11?” Graham questioned.
He said foreign terrorists could have easily seized on the moment. “Yesterday they could have blown the building up. They could have killed us all. They could have destroyed the government,” he said.
“Warning shots should have been fired. Lethal force should have been used once they penetrated the seat of government.”
He called for a joint task force to find and prosecute every protester who breached the Capitol. “Money will not be an object” in pursuing the rioters, he said.
Graham said that he does not regret his support of the president, pointing to Middle East peace deals, appointing conservative judges to the courts and other international affairs. Graham said that Trump listened to him and shaped policy based on his input in a way President Barack Obama never did.
“It breaks my heart my friend allowed yesterday to happen,” Graham said.
“It will be a part of his legacy,” the senator continued. “It was a self-inflicted wound.”
Graham said that voting irregularities peddled by the president’s legal team had been “‘overblown” as part of an effort to “spread disinformation.”
“To my colleagues who objected … you didn’t do anything illegal. I just disagree with what you were trying to do,” he said of the six senators and over 100 House members who raised objections even after the Capitol breach.
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“Limited government applies when you don’t like the outcome just as much as it applies when you do like the outcome,” he said of lawmakers trying to overturn the state’s certified results.
To those who pushed Vice President Mike Pence to step in and send votes back to the states, Graham said they “have cheapened the idea of constitutional conservatism.” He said some chose the moment to advance “personal causes,” and it would “come back to haunt” them.
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