Politics & Government

Graham interview on Fox News ends awkwardly after getting riled up about confirmations

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., abruptly ended an interview on Fox News Sunday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., abruptly ended an interview on Fox News Sunday. AP

One topic got U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham so fired up that the South Carolina Republican awkwardly ended a Sunday morning interview — on Fox News.

Graham ignored Fox News host Chris Wallace and pulled off his microphone as the interview came to a halt, video shows.

In a clip of the Fox News interview, South Carolina’s senior senator was angry after Wallace asked him about a potential Supreme Court vacancy.

Video shows Graham went from wishing the best for ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to “hellbent” on finding a conservative to replace her.



But his ire in the interview was not directed at either Wallace or Ginsburg, but toward Democrats — those who previously worked across the aisle from Graham, and many who currently occupy seats in the Senate.

Wallace asked Graham about the possibility of replacing Ginsburg, who missed arguments “for the first time in more than 25 years as she recuperates from cancer surgery,” the Associated Press reported. Video shows Wallace wanted to know how Graham, the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would try to prevent any possible confirmation hearings from becoming “a political circus,” referring to the contentious partisan hearings that occurred during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

At first, Graham was conciliatory, saying “I wish her well and hope she recovers and continues to serve for many years,” video shows.

But Graham quickly moved to a sterner tone when taking issue with his “Democratic colleagues.”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, fell in her office at the supreme Court and was hospitalized, said the court on November 8, 2018. Tests showed she fractured three ribs.

In the interview Graham said Democrats felt “when they were in charge, we should confirm judges by a majority vote. They changed the rules to accommodate President (Barack) Obama, they tried to stack the court, they never thought (Hillary) Clinton would lose.

“Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer’s desire to stack the court on their Democratic watch has come back to haunt them,” Graham said, growing more agitated while pointing his finger in the video. “... This is what happens when you change the rules. This has come back to bite them. I predicted it would.”

Graham broke from his escalating speech, but only briefly.

After again wishing Ginsburg, well, video shows Graham quickly increasing his comments, saying “If there’s an opening on this court, I’m going to be hellbent to put a conservative to replace whoever steps down for whatever reason.”

In the interview, Wallace then asked if replacing a “liberal icon” like Ginsburg with a conservative justice would make” the Kavanaugh hearings look like a tea party?”

Graham responded by saying “they should’ve thought of that before they changed the rules,” video shows. “They tried to destroy conservative judges. ... I am dead set on making sure it’s a conservative nominee. Elections have consequences. The rules of the Senate were changed, not by me! By them.”

Wallace then interjected to explain that Democrats changed judicial voting and cabinet nomination standards from 60 to 51 votes, when they were in the majority, the video shows. Senate Republicans under the leadership of Mitch McConnell changed the voting standard for Supreme Court justices, from 60 to 51.

Graham, whom McClatchy reported garnered attention for angrily lashing out at Democrats during the Kavanaugh hearings, told Wallace Republicans had to change the Supreme Court rules, saying “Kavanaugh was a fine man. They tried to destroy him,” video shows.

As Wallace attempted to wrap up the interview, Graham interjected, again wagging his finger and speaking in an agitated tone, video shows.

“We don’t need one Democrat to replace a liberal justice,” Graham said in the interview.

Wallace then said, “always good to speak to you sir,” which was met by silence from Graham, who looked away and pulled the microphone of his lapel, according to the video.

After more silence, Wallace said “OK, I guess you think it was OK to speak to us,” laughing nervously in the video.

At a rally in Columbia, SC, Donald Trump talks about Sen. Lindsey Graham and their once rocky relationship.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.


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