In an interview with "Axios on HBO" that aired on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said former President Donald Trump has both a "dark side" and a "magic" that other Republicans don't.
The South Carolina senator became a close ally of the president during his four years in office but doesn't always follow Trump the way some of his loyalists do. While he opposed impeachment after the Capitol riot, Graham said Trump "needs to understand that his actions were the problem."
When Axios's Jonathan Swan asked Graham why he still supports Trump, the senator said he still believes Trump's movement is good for the country.
"Mitt Romney didn't do it, John McCain didn't do it — there's something about Trump. There's a dark side and there's some magic there," Graham said. "What I'm trying to do is just harness the magic."
—Axios (@axios) March 7, 2021
Since the siege of the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, some congressional Republicans have been divided over how the party should move forward. While the vast majority voted against impeachment, 10 representatives voted to impeach and seven senators voted to convict Trump.
Yet Graham told Axios that he thinks the best way for the Republican party to move forward with its agenda is "with Trump, not without Trump."
"He could make the Republican party something that nobody else I know could make it," Graham said. "He could make it bigger, he could make it stronger, he could make it more diverse. And he also could destroy it."
Graham told reporters last month he was meeting with Trump to discuss the future of the Republican party. He said he wanted to convince Trump to help Republicans take back Congressional majorities in 2022, but that they would need the party to be united.
"If it's about revenge and going after people you don't like, we're going to have a problem," Graham said he would say to Trump.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, Trump called out the Republicans who voted for his impeachment by name, prompting boos from the crowd.
Trump also told Politico on Saturday that he would be traveling to Alaska to campaign against GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict him, calling her "disloyal" and "very bad."
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