Trump Calls Lindsey Graham a “RINO”

Susan Walsh/AP

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.Donald Trump, a man with few to no real friends, was quick to label Lindsey Graham a “RINO”—Republican in name only—after learning that the South Carolina senator, one of the former president’s staunchest defenders, mildly criticized his suggestion that he’d pardon those prosecuted for participating in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol if he were to retake the presidency in 2024.
“Well, Lindsey Graham’s wrong,” Trump told Newsmax on Tuesday when presented with Graham’s comments that the idea of pardons for insurrectionists was “inappropriate.”
“I mean, Lindsey’s a nice guy—but he’s a RINO,” Trump said, adding that “Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about if he says that.”

Trump: Well, Lindsey Graham is wrong. Lindsey is a nice guy but he’s a RINO
— Acyn (@Acyn) February 2, 2022

It was the latest turn in the strange friendship between the two men. As a 2016 presidential candidate, Graham famously compared the choice between Trump and Ted Cruz to being “shot or poisoned.” The South Carolina senator also once called Trump a “xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot.” But things dramatically shifted when Trump entered the White House, and Graham swiftly refashioned himself into one of the president’s most impassioned supporters. He told The View in 2018 that he no longer considered Trump a “xenophobic, race-baiting, religious bigot—as president.” (A video reminder of Graham’s flip-flopping on Trump, below)
So, as Trump re-ups the crazy talk over January 6, could things have finally soured between the golfing buddies? It’s highly, highly unlikely. But at least Trump has always known, to some degree, that he doesn’t have any true friends.