He first floated the idea during an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, who had made a similar suggestion on his show the night before.
“Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Col. Stauffenberg in the Russian military?" Graham asked, referring to the Roman politician who assassinated Julius Caesar and a Nazi officer who tried to kill Adolf Hitler. "The only way this ends, my friend, especially in Russia, is to take this guy out. You would be doing your country a great service and the world a great service.”
He later again called for the assassination on Twitter:
Graham, it should be noted, is a war hawk who rarely opposes sending American armed forces into harm’s way, hence his avid support for the Iraq War in the early 2000s. For that reason, it’s predictable — albeit deeply worrying — that he’d so flippantly and openly suggest that Russians put their (and our) lives on the line to kill a brutal dictator.
Graham’s call for an assassination attempt was so crazy a suggestion that it was condemned by far-right troll Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who called it an “exceptionally bad idea.” Conspiracy theory-peddling Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., also denounced Graham’s comments, calling them “dangerous” and “unhinged.”
Even Fox News host Laura Ingraham called Graham’s idea “stupid.”
I should say: Right-wingers have come to embrace Putin as of late, so who knows their true motives for not wanting Putin killed. But the fact that they’re denouncing Graham’s war fantasies is a sign of how deranged his plans truly are.
For what it's worth, Twitter reportedly said Graham's tweet did not violate the platform's rules.
Regardless, contrary to Graham’s suggestion, it’s not clear that removing Putin would bring an end to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, let alone its potential to ignite more global conflict. Some of the people who’ve been floated as potential heirs to the dictatorship if Putin is overthrown share the same warped worldview he does.
Nonetheless, Graham’s views do signal a trend that’s come to a head in recent weeks as the Russia-Ukraine conflict has escalated. While the invasion has allowed foreign affairs experts to gain prominence online, it’s also given rise to lazy, dangerous and half-baked punditry of the sort Graham has provided.