- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 13, 2022

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he would not support Sen. Mitch McConnell as GOP leader in the next Congress if he does not have a “working relationship with President [Donald] Trump.”

“I’m not going to vote for anybody for leader of the Senate as a Republican unless they can prove to me that they can advocate an ‘America first’ agenda and have a working relationship with President Trump,” Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, said Wednesday on Fox News.

Mr. Trump has been relentless in his attacks against Mr. McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who had served as majority leader from 2015 to 2021, and is in line to hold that post again if Republicans flip the chamber in November’s elections.

Mr. Graham, meanwhile, has gone from being a top Trump critic in the 2016 presidential race to a top Trump ally on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Trump has made a habit of criticizing Mr. McConnell over the years, dubbing him an “old crow” and a “loser,” while casting him as disloyal and blaming him for not passing more of the “America first” agenda in the Senate.

For his part, Mr. McConnell has decided in most cases not to respond or react to Mr. Trump’s broadsides. However, he has refused to buy into Mr. Trump’s stolen election claims and laughed off the former president’s attempt to claim credit for his 20-point re-election win in the 2020 election.

Mr. Graham briefly broke with Mr. Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying on the Senate floor, “Count me out. Enough is Enough.”

But that didn’t last long. Mr. Graham flew with Mr. Trump to Texas a week later and has maintained a strong relationship.

Mr. Graham said Wednesday on Fox News that Mr. Trump is “the most consequential Republican since Ronald Reagan” and predicted that Mr. Trump would win the 2024 presidential nomination if he runs.

“Here’s the question: Can Sen. McConnell effectively work with the leader of the Republican Party, Donald Trump?” Mr. Graham said. “I’m not going to vote for anybody that can’t have a working relationship with President Trump, to be a team, to come up with an ‘America first’ agenda … because if you can’t do that, you will fail.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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