US Senator Lindsey Graham speaks at a press conference at the US Capitol on August 5, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images
US Senator Lindsey Graham on Saturday defended the suggestion that there would be “riots in the streets” if former President Donald Trump were prosecuted for mishandling classified information, saying he criticized the violence seen during the Capitol riots. convicted last year.
“What I tried to do was say the obvious,” Graham, a South Carolina Republican and close ally of Trump, told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at the Ambrosetti Forum in Italy.
“This is what I said, The robbery on… [former] The House of President Trump, the likely candidate for 2024, better pay off here,” he added. “When it comes to just mishandling classified information, we’ve had a standard set when it comes to Hillary Clinton went.”
“Our country, the people on our side, believe that when it comes to the justice system, there are no rules regarding Trump, [it’s a case of] “Get him no matter how you get him,” so I said if it’s similar to what happened to Clinton and he’s being prosecuted, it’s going to be one of the most disruptive events in America,” Graham said.
Trump and his allies have argued that the FBI, which investigates possible violations of espionage and obstruction of justice laws, treats him differently from Hillary Clinton, who was the subject of an FBI investigation into her use of a private e-mail server while he was Secretary of State, but was not prosecuted. Trump’s critics argue that the two cases are not comparable.
Graham said he rejected the violence witnessed during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saying that “all those people who defiled the Capitol should go to jail,” but said any alleged dishonesty towards Trump would have consequences.
“I don’t want to pardon the people of January 6 because that seems to reinforce the story that this is okay. I said something I really believe – if he does what she did with classified information and he gets prosecuted and she did it wouldn’t pose a problem.”
Graham said last week there would be “riots in the streets” if Trump were prosecuted for mishandling classified information.
“I will say this, if there is a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information, after the Clinton debacle…there will be riots in the streets,” Graham told Fox News’ Trey Gowdy, a former Republican congressman.
Trump ‘was a consistent president’
Trump is currently under investigation and at risk of indictment for his handling of classified White House data that he took to his home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
Last week, the release of a heavily redacted affidavit showed how concerns about illegal activity and obstruction of justice in July led to an FBI search of Trump’s resort.
Graham admitted that he believed in “handling classified information responsibly,” but reiterated that “mishandling classified information is really bad, but we can’t have a system where one person is prosecuted and another isn’t.”
When asked if Trump is the best person to represent the Republican Party in 2024, Graham said, “I think he could be.”
“Like Trump or not, he was a consistent president… I think a strong US president, unpredictable, is a good thing as long as you keep it within bounds. His problem is personal, his policies have the test withstood time, but has he exhausted the American people in terms of his personality? Time will tell. But I will say this, after the Biden presidency, if there is a policy debate in 2024, I love his opportunities. If It’s a personality contest, he’s going to get in trouble.”
Graham said he talks to Trump “all the time” and that the former president still thinks he’s been “cheated”. Graham said he voted to certify the 2020 election and Biden is the legitimate president.
Trump “sincerely believes the system has been manipulated against him and I said, ‘Mr. President, I’m not trying to tell you to change your beliefs. I’m trying to tell you that you have no chance of winning in 2020, but you have a pretty good chance of winning in 2024 if you want to,” said Graham, pointing out that he told Trump that if he makes a comeback, “it will be one of the greatest political comebacks in American history.”
Speech and debate clause
A federal judge Thursday rejected Graham’s latest attempt to challenge a subpoena for his testimony before a special grand jury in Georgia investigating possible criminal interference in the 2020 election by Trump and his allies.
However, the judge limited the scope of the subpoena by ordering Graham not to be questioned about phone calls he made with Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks following the November 2020 election between Trump and President Joe. Biden.
It follows Graham’s continued bids to avoid having to testify on the grounds that his position as a legislator grants him immunity under the “speech or debate” clause of the US Constitution.
Graham reiterated his position on Saturday, saying: “I did not initiate this debate. You have a state prosecutor who has decided to investigate a national election and to call anyone connected with the role they played in the election. I am a United States Senator, in our Constitution we have an immunity clause for a speech or debate so that we can’t be dragged into courts across the country every time we do something that someone doesn’t like.”
“I think the court will recognize that my activities as a United States senator fell under the speech and debate clause that the Attorney General’s desire to bring me to Georgia violates the constitution.”