During an interview on Wednesday at The Atlantic Festival, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said that if a Supreme Court seat opened up during the year before President Donald Trump's presidency ended, he would keep that seat open until the next administration took over.
What did Graham say?
Speaking with The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg, Graham said:
Now I'll tell you this. This may make you feel better, but I really don't care: If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term, and the primary process has started, we'll wait till the next election. And I've got a pretty good chance of being the Judiciary —
Goldberg interrupted him, "You're on the record."
"Yes," Graham responded. "Hold the tape."
Graham could be trying to ease concerns of potential swing votes in the Senate such as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) or Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). While she has not indicated if it would impact her vote, Collins told reporters that she thought “the president's comments were just plain wrong” at a rally Tuesday in Mississippi.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also called the president's comments about Christine Blasey Ford “appalling” and “wrong.” However, Flake is expected to vote yes if the FBI cannot find evidence by the end of its investigation to corroborate claims make by the women accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
Graham is up for election in 2020, the same year that Trump is running for re-election.
He also brought up how Democrats treated Clinton accusers in the '90s
During the interview, Graham said also that while he didn't “like what the president said last night,” “everything Trump said was factual,” and that Ford was treated “respectfully” while Kavanaugh was “treated like crap.” When this was met with boos from the audience, Graham shot back, “Yeah, well, boo yourself.”
Graham argued that the way Democrats treated former President Bill Clinton accusers was far worse than how Ford was being treated:
You know, here's what's personally degrading: “This is what you get when you go through a trailer park with a $100 bill.” See, this is not the first time this has happened ... the bottom line is, I know what can happen when a woman comes forward in a political environment. Doctor Ford, I thought, was treated respectfully by Miss. Mitchell.
The trailer park quote comes from Democratic operative James Carville, who responded to accusations of rape against Bill Clinton by Paula Jones by saying “if you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you'll find.”
But Yahoo News wasn't paying attention
Yahoo News originally attributed this quote to Graham himself instead of to Carville in an initial tweet which read:
Sen. Lindsey Graham defends Trump's mocking of Dr. Ford: “Everything he said was factual...this is what you get when you go through a trailer park with a $100 bill.”
The audience gasps.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 3, 2018
This tweet has since been deleted. Yahoo News subsequently tweeted that the deleted tweet “did not accurately reflect the context of Lindsey Graham's quote.”
Graham also criticized his Democratic colleagues for their handling of Ford:
If the shoe were on the other foot, and an accusation came from South Carolina against a male Democratic nominee, and I got a hold of it, and I didn't disclose it to the committee, I waited to leak it to the press against the wishes of the lady from South Carolina, I would be torn apart and I should be. And if I referred her to a conservative, activist lawyer who didn't tell her that the Democrats were willing to come to South Carolina to hear her testimony so she wouldn't have to go through this, I would be destroyed.
That last part of Graham's quote refers to the fact that Ford indicated during her testimony that she was not aware that Senate Republicans had volunteered to send people to privately interview her in California rather than have her fly to Washington, D.C., to testify publicly.
Graham noted that he had voted for Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan and argued that he “would never have done to them what's been done to this good man.”