Lindsey Graham No Longer Thinks Donald Trump Is a “Xenophobic” Bigot

What’s changed for the South Carolina senator?

Once a fierce critic of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on national television on Monday to say he no longer believes Trump is a “race-baiting, xenophobic bigot.” 

The South Carolina senator, who in August condemned the president for attracting the favor of white supremacists in the wake of a deadly nationalist rally in Charlottesville, stopped short of outlining exactly what factors may have contributed to the stark change in tune—other than the fact that his former primary opponent is now commander in chief.

“He ran against 17 Republicans and crushed us all,” Graham said during the appearance on “The View.” “He ran against the Clinton machine and won. So, all I can say is that you can say anything you want to say about the guy. I said he was a xenophobic, race-baiting religious bigot. I ran out of things to say. He won. Guess what? He’s our president.”

“You’re calling him a xenophobic, religious bigot?” co-host Joy Behar asked.

“I did that during the campaign,” Graham said. “I did.”

When pressed whether he still believes that his past characterizations of Trump hold, Graham answered: “No, I don’t think he’s a xenophobic, race-baiting religious bigot—as president.” 

In recent months, Graham has slowly emerged as something of a Trump “whisperer” in the Oval Office, with the two known to play golf together and work collaboratively on legislation. “Lindsey used to be a great enemy of mine, and now he’s a great friend of mine,” Trump said during a meeting on immigration Thursday. “I really like Lindsey. Can you believe that? I never thought I’d say that, but I do like him a lot.”

The next day, the president’s admiration for his new friend likely grew when Graham, along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), called for a criminal investigation into Christophe Steele, the former British spy who authored the infamous Trump dossier. Democrats slammed the decision as politically motivated and an attempt to distract from Trump’s potential times to the Kremlin. Graham on Monday defended the criminal recommendation, adding that he did not believe informants should “take their work product and give it to the FBI and the media at the same time.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend