Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday expressed outrage over the deadly Capitol riot, pointing a finger at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not doing more to secure the building instead of at President Donald Trump, whose rhetoric inspired the violence.
During an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Graham called on his fellow Republicans to unite against Trump’s impeachment despite the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol, which left at least five people dead.
“I understand what happened on January the 6th was one of the low points in my time in office,” Graham told host Maria Bartiromo, one of Trump’s most vocal defenders on cable news.
“It was horrendous to see people take over the Capitol, the House and the Senate, beat officers, defile the seat of government,” he continued. “How in the hell did that happen? Where was Nancy Pelosi? It’s her job to provide Capitol security. We’ll get to the bottom of that.”
Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, berated Graham on Twitter later Sunday in response to the GOP lawmaker’s accusation.
“This disgraceful attempt to shift blame for the mob attack on the Capitol is absurd & pathetic,” Hammill wrote. “He need only look in the mirror if he wants to start pointing a finger. He has repeatedly cast doubts on results of a fair election & dangerously fanned flames of rightwing quackery.”
The U.S. Capitol Police are, in fact, charged with protecting Congress. The force, composed of more than 2,300 officers and employees, is governed by the Capitol Police Board, which is made up of three voting members: the House sergeant-at-arms, the Senate sergeant-at-arms and the architect of the Capitol.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger have resigned their positions in the wake of the attack. However, Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton, whom Trump nominated for the position in December 2019, hasn’t stepped down.
Sund told NPR on Friday that, just two days before the attack, he had asked Irving for additional assistance from the National Guard in helping to protect the Capitol, but his request was denied. Sund said he believes Stenger had told Irving that an increased military presence would be bad optics.
Graham’s flip-flopping positions on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election have drawn backlash and mockery from Democrats and some media pundits. After weeks of helping Trump peddle his baseless claims of widespread election fraud, Graham made an impassioned speech from the Senate floor, hours after the Capitol riot, stating that President-elect Joe Biden lawfully won the race.
“Count me out,” Graham had said, referring to Trump’s voter fraud lies. “Enough is enough.”
The day after the Capitol riot, Graham, failing to mention his own role in the conspiracy theories’ rise, said during a news conference that Trump’s actions were “the problem” and not “the solution” leading up to the attack.
“The rally yesterday was unseemly,” Graham said. “It got out of hand. ... Are there irregularities in this election? Yes, I’m sure there are. Have they been overblown? Absolutely.”
A few days later, Graham joined Trump on board Air Force One for a trip to Texas. The Republican senator sent a letter Sunday to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urging him to dismiss the article of impeachment passed by the House when he takes control of the upper chamber this week.
“Vice President [Mike] Pence stood in the breach against unconstitutional calls for him to overturn the 2020 election and violate his oath to defend the Constitution,” Graham wrote in his letter, failing to note that it was Trump who repeatedly called on Pence to do so.
“The Trump Presidency is over in three days,” he added. “The Vice President of the United States withstood immense and unprecedented partisan pressure ... We, and you, must now do the same.”
Some have speculated that Trump, who has a long history of granting political favors to his supporters, will issue pardons to some of the Capitol riot participants. Graham on Sunday urged the president not to do so.
“I think it would destroy President Trump and I hope we don’t go down that road,” Graham said.