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Lindsey Graham, facing tough reelection, breaks with Trump

Jack Kelly, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Lindsey Graham has publicly opposed President Donald Trump five times in the past few weeks, an unusual torrent of dissent from one of the president's top allies in Washington just months before the South Carolina Republican faces a tough reelection challenge.

Since June 20, Graham has blocked a Trump U.S. attorney nominee, criticized Trump's decision to put a temporary freeze on visas for foreign workers, split with the president about face masks during the coronavirus pandemic and pressed the administration for information about alleged Russian bounties on American soldiers.

Monday, Graham was at odds with Trump after the president alleged in a Twitter post that an apparent noose found last month in the Talladega Superspeedway garage of Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's only Black full-time driver, was a "HOAX," and called on Wallace to apologize to his NASCAR colleagues.

Graham, speaking to Fox News Radio, said Wallace being upset about the noose "made perfect sense to me."

"I don't think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for," Graham said, adding that "you saw the best in NASCAR. When there was a chance that it was a threat against Bubba Wallace, (the drivers) all rallied to Bubba's side. I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax."

The FBI investigated the incident last month, concluding that the noose had been in the garage since last year and, accordingly, Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime.

 

Graham also addressed NASCAR's recent decision to ban the Confederate flag at its events, saying that "if you're in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business."

The senator has been a strong ally and personal friend of Trump, defending the president in several high-profile moments over the last four years.

Graham was one of the most outspoken Senate supporters of Brett Kavanaugh, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by Trump, during hearings that featured sexual assault allegations against the nominee. Graham declared during the process that Kavanaugh "has nothing to apologize for." The senator also defended Trump amid impeachment hearings in the House, calling the process "a bunch of BS."

The two golfed together at the Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia, last month.

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