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Lindsay Graham Once Called Trump An 'Evil Force.' Trump Still Is

June 8, 2021

By Joe Rothstein

When Donald Trump joined the contest for the GOP presidential nomination Republican leaders knew he was a miserable human being. There were no doubts. No more evidence was required than the economic and moral wreckage that was his adult career.

"This is the most important government job on the planet. And we're about to turn over the conservative movement to a person that has no ideas of any substance on the important issues....the nuclear codes of the United States — to an erratic individual — and the conservative movement — to someone who has spent a career sticking it to working people.”---Marco Rubio, February 26, 2016

“Ted Cruz on Tuesday unloaded on Donald Trump, accusing him during a news conference of being a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen” and “a serial philanderer.”---May 3, 2016

“This is not about who we nominate anymore as Republicans as much as it’s who we are. This is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party....any time you leave a bad idea or a dangerous idea alone, any time you ignore what could become an evil force, you wind up regretting it.” –Lindsay Graham, March 7, 2016

Even though they knew Trump would be a disastrous choice for president, the prospect of regaining the White House was too enticing. The leaders of the Republican party, not heeding Graham’s warning, “left a bad and dangerous idea alone” and helped an “evil force,” become president of the United States.

By the time the U.S. House impeached Trump for trying to hold Ukraine hostage to smear Joe Biden, Trump’s incompetence, self-dealing, and abuse of power were firmly etched in stone. The Republicans who could have ended Trump’s career and help preserve our democratic institutions chose to not even hear the evidence against him.

In May, 2020, Jared Kusher hinted that Trump might try to call off the November 3 election. Multiple times during the year Trump told supporters at his rallies the only way he could lose would be if the election was rigged. Republican leaders could have gone to Trump at any time and warned him that if he tried to subvert the results they would not stand by him. Instead, they remained mute while Trump’s “stop the steal” campaign boiled over into the attack the Capitol itself.

There were days after January 6 when it appeared that Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy and others in the Republican leadership were about to finally declare, “enough.” But they folded. Even to the extent of thwarting an investigation into an attack designed to keep Trump in power and where some attack leaders seemed intent on hanging the vice president and killing the speaker of the House.

Those Republican leaders remain silent today, as Trump recruits loyalists to run against many of their Republican colleagues considered not subservient enough to Trump and 24% of their own party believes an armed insurrection may be needed to “save” America.

Trump’s North Carolina speech, filled with lies and ominous portents about being “reinstated” should have met with firm public push back from every Republican who believes in constitutional government. But, as in most instances of Trump’s bullying and threats, he finds no resistance from those who know better.

In 2016, Lindsay Graham had no doubt about the consequences of leaving “a bad idea or a dangerous idea alone” and ignoring “what could become an evil force.”

What comes next?

Thousands of those assault weapons winding up as an insurrection "to save America" in, say, eastern Oregon or western Idaho?” Would Republican leaders speak out then, or remain silent, fearing the wrath of Trump’s “core” voters?

Trump marching triumphantly, and with scant opposition, into the Republican nomination for president in 2024? Even if he were indicted of felonies?

Running an overt racist campaign against Kamela Harris, stirring months of deadly civil unrest that "only I alone can fix."

Just where do Lindsay Graham and company intend to draw the line and stop ignoring the most dangerous domestic internal evil force in U.S. history since the Civil War?

When Trump entered the Republican primary for president in 2015, Republican leaders knew he was not just unfit for the office, but that he would be a danger to the republic if he won. They still talk about it among themselves. They tut tut and tsk tsk in private. Meanwhile, Trump continues to take a wrecking ball to the world's leading sanctuary of democracy.

The time to publicly and effectively tell Trump “NO” was 2015 and 2016 and every year since. The missed opportunities are tragic. There aren’t many left. That window is closing.

(Joe Rothstein is a veteran political strategist and author of the award-winning political thrillers, “The Latina President and the Conspiracy to Ignore Her,” and “The Salvation Project.” He can be contacted at

Joe Rothstein is a political strategist and media producer who worked in more than 200 campaigns for political office and political causes. He also has served as editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anchorage Daily News and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. He has a master's degree in journalism from UCLA. Mr. Rothstein is the author of award-winning political thrillers, "The Latina President and the Conspiracy to Destroy Her," and "The Salvation Project."