New audio: Lindsey Graham touted Biden as ‘best person’ to rally country, blamed Jan 6 on Trump

(Video: CNN)

Previously unreleased audio footage from an interview conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6th Capitol riot shows South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham praising then-President-elect Joe Biden and trash-talking then-President Donald Trump.

The footage consisting of two clips shows, one, Graham predicting that Biden, as president, will somehow unify the nation, and two, the South Carolina senator essentially blaming the Jan. 6th riot on Trump.

The clips were recorded by Jonathan Martin of The New York Times.

Clip One

“We will actually come out of this thing stronger. Moments like this reset. People will calm down. People will [say], ‘I don’t want to be associated with that.’ This is a group within a group. What this does, it’ll be a rallying effect for a while, where the country says, ‘We’re better than this,'” Graham says in the first clip.

This prompts Martin to ask, “And Biden will help better, right?”

“Totally. He’ll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?” the South Carolina senator replies.

Speaking on CNN late Tuesday, Martin admitted forthright that Graham had grossly erred in his prediction.

“My goodness, those two assumptions in the days and weeks later would obviously prove to be errant. The country did not come together. It deepened the partisan divisions. Joe Biden was not able to rally the country. He is one more partisan actor on the political scene,” the New York Times reporter argued.

Indeed, a Quinnipiac poll released in January found that a 49 percent plurality of Americans believed President Biden was “doing more to divide the country” than unify it. This included 92 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of independents.

Clip Two

“He’s misjudged the passion. He plays the TV game, and he went too far here. That rally didn’t help, talking about primarying Liz [Cheney]. He created a sense of revenge,” Graham says of Trump in the second clip.

Just prior to the Jan. 6th riot, then-President Trump held a “Stop the Steal” rally at The Ellipse, a park south of the White House, and during his rally speech, he did indeed speak about primarying Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney.

“If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them. We’re going to let you know who they are. I can already tell you, frankly. … [W]e got to get rid of the weak congresspeople, the ones that aren’t any good, the Liz Cheneys of the world, we got to get rid of them,” he said.

But it’s unclear how encouraging his supporters to primary Cheney had anything to do with the spontaneous riot that erupted at the U.S. Capitol later that afternoon. Note also that Trump has never been charged with any crime related to the riot.

These clips are part of a collection of bombshells that have been unveiled by Martin and his Times colleague, Alexander Burns, as part of the release of their book, “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future.”

Another bombshell related to Graham is that he’d been part of the flock of GOP leaders who’d threatened to invoke the 25th Amendment against then-President Trump both during and after the Jan. 6th riot.

Graham reportedly made the threat during an aggressive conversation with then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone. According to Martin and Burns, Graham, angered by the riot, told Cippollone that unless Trump denounced the rioters’ behavior, “we’ll be asking you for the 25th Amendment” to remove Trump from office.

Critics say these bombshells point to Graham not being as loyal to Trump as he purports to be in public.

But the argument could be made that the senator is simply a conflicted man. After all, a month after his Jan. 6th trash-talking, Graham traveled to Mar-a-Lago “to meet with Donald Trump in hopes of bridging a growing rift in the top echelon of the Republican Party,” as reported at the time by CNN.

“According to a person familiar with his plans, Graham plans to spend his time on the golf course with Trump — ideally convincing the former president that regaining congressional majorities for Republicans will help bolster his own presidential legacy. This person said Graham wants to be ‘constructive,’ urging Trump to use his influence for the party’s good,” according to CNN.

The meeting was described at the time as a “peace mission.”

Regardless, the senator’s not up for reelection till 2026, so he’s safe for now no matter what he really thinks about Donald Trump …

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