U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham talks to a reporter as he arrives at Capitol Hill in Washington U.S. on May 10, 2016.
Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Despite revelations, Lindsey Graham still excuses Trump


In August, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, directly implicated the president in a felony. The White House’s Republican allies shrugged.

Last week, federal prosecutors directly implicated the president in a felony. Again, the GOP was underwhelmed. One Republican went so far as to explicitly say he simply didn’t care whether the president committed crimes or not.

We learned yesterday that American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer tabloid, admitted it paid off one of Trump’s alleged former mistresses. The hush-money, according to the company, was made “in concert with” the Trump campaign, in order to “suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.”

And yet, the president’s allies are still underwhelmed. Here’s what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN’s Manu Raju last night:

“You’d have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the payment was designed to benefit the campaign exclusively and there was no other reason. So I think that would be somewhat of a challenge for a prosecutor.”

Remember, we know there was a pre-election payoff. We know Trump’s lawyer said it was made in order to help Trump’s campaign. We know federal prosecutors, who’ve seen all of the evidence, believe the payment was made in order to help Trump’s campaign. We know the company that wrote the check has admitted that the payment was made in order to help Trump’s campaign.

But Lindsey Graham isn’t sold. Maybe he wants to see “we’re conspiring to break campaign-finance laws” written in the memo section of the check.

This comes on the heels of the South Carolina Republican dismissing former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s felonies and downplaying the importance of “process crimes” in general.

Graham will next month become the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Those who expect him to hold hearings examining the White House’s many scandals are likely to be disappointed.