National Politics

Graham gushes after Sunday round with Trump, but more than golf was discussed

FILE
FILE

Guess who spent the day playing golf together … again.

Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump played a round at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sunday. The U.S. Senator from South Carolina has become a frequent golfing partner for the President in recent months.

It’s likely no coincidence that most of the times it has been reported that Graham and Trump have hit the links has coincided with significant legislation making its way through Congress.

All Graham tweeted about Sunday was how impressed he was with another of the president’s golf properties.

“Trump International Golf Club is a spectacular golf course,” Graham wrote on Twitter. “Great day of fun playing with @POTUS @realDonaldTrump.”

But Graham did more than share his appreciation for the golf course with his fellow Republican. Trump and Graham discussed the tax bill and upcoming budget talks after they teed off, White House spokesman Raj Shah told the White House press pool.

Graham and Trump played two rounds of golf together in October. Around that time was when South Carolina’s senior senator was trying to build momentum for his plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Trump had voiced support for Graham’s failed attempt.

And Graham has rallied to support Trump in his opposition of North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear program.

“We talked about serious things on the back nine,” Graham said after playing a round with Trump on Oct. 9. “North Korea. Iran. Immigration.”

Trump and Graham played another round at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia on Oct. 14.

The latest round of golf and Graham’s access to Trump continues the startling turnaround from their previously contentious relationship.

Trump was Graham’s nemesis on the 2016 campaign trail, where the he failed to gain traction as Trump cruised to the Republican Party’s nomination. During the campaign, Graham called Trump a “jackass,” before Trump responded, calling Graham a “lightweight” and an “idiot.”

After news of their latest round of golf became public Sunday, many took to social media to retweet Graham’s old posts about Trump, which his opinion of the then-candidate could be called dubious, at best.

But Graham has changed his approach since Trump was sworn in as president, rallying more to his side in recent months. Is it part of a plan to help get future legislation Graham champions passed? Is Graham lobbying for a greater role in the Trump Administration, should he leave the Senate or fail to get re-elected in 2020?

Or is Graham just trying to serve as Trump’s surrogate in negotiations on the tax bill, as the House and Senate versions of the legislation will begin to be debated this week?

Trump has set a Christmas deadline to be presented with a bill he can sign into law. In the past, Graham has said that failure on taxes would be politically devastating with control of the House and Senate at stake in midterm elections next year.

“It would be a complete disaster,” Graham said in October, and has subtly aligned himself with Trump.

Graham made a series of tweets on Dec. 8 that could be considered supportive of Trump. They could be seen as a proclamation that he will be a thorn in the side of investigators looking into alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

“I will be challenging Rs and Ds on Senate Judiciary Committee to support a Special Counsel to investigate ALL THINGS 2016 – not just Trump and Russia,” Graham tweeted, looking to broaden the spectrum of investigation.

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