Of all the flip-flops between the 2016 Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland and the pending 2020 Supreme Court nomination by President Donald Trump, none is more blatant than that of the man who will run the confirmation hearings for the eventual nominee: South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
“I will be leading the charge to make sure that President Trump’s nominee has a hearing, goes to the United States Senate for a vote, because that is my job and I believe I am doing what the people of South Carolina want me to do in this regard,” Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at a GOP event in North Charleston on Monday.
Which is, um, different than what he said in 2016 when he opposed even holding confirmation hearings for Garland.
“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said at the time. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.’”
Yeah, I mean, he pretty much asked for it. Like, explicitly.
No one who has followed politics for the last five-ish years – basically since the rise of Trump – should be surprised AT ALL that Graham is the Republican senator with the most outrageous flip-flop on, ahem, principle.
You’ll remember that when Graham was running against Trump for president in 2016, he described the billionaire businessman as a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.” And said this: “You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”
Fast forward a few years – and suddenly Graham is one of Trump’s biggest defenders (and regular golf buddies.)
What happened? Well, The New York Times’ Mark Leibovich put that question directly to Graham back in 2019. And here’s how Graham answered: “Well, OK, from my point of view, if you know anything about me, it’d be odd not to do this.” Pressed by Leibovich on what “this” was, Graham said: “‘This’ is to try to be relevant.”
The Point: Lindsey Graham is about relevance, not principle. The chance to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for a SCOTUS nominee that would tilt the Court to a clear 6-3 conservative majority? He’s never going to pass that up.