Graham: Trump's actions were 'problem' in Capitol violence

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington. Graham said Thursday that the president must accept his own role in the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – One of President Donald Trump’s top congressional allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday that the president must accept his own role in the violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol, adding that he didn't regret helping Trump but that the whole matter had been a “self-inflicted wound.”

“When it comes to accountability the president needs to understand that his actions were the problem not the solution,” the South Carolina Republican said Thursday during a news conference in Washington. “A good friend of mine, Rudy Giuliani, did not help.”

Graham was referencing Trump's comments at a rally on Wednesday where thousands of the president's supporters gathered, and where he stoked displeasure at the impending Electoral College certification vote of Democrat Joe Biden's victory over him in the 2020 election.

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said, encouraging attendees to walk down the street to the Capitol, where lawmakers had gathered for the session.

“Let the weak ones get out,” he went on. “This is a time for strength.”

Giuliani told the crowd, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

After the rally, a mob of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol and unleashed unprecedented scenes of mayhem in hopes of halting the peaceful transition of power. Members of Congress were forced into hiding, offices were ransacked, and the formal congressional tally of Electoral College votes was halted for more than six hours.

Graham was once a foe of Trump, even questioning his mental fitness for office. But his popularity among Republicans in his home state grew as he developed a relationship with the president, who twice won South Carolina, and where support for him remained steady throughout his term. Over time, Graham has become one of Trump’s top confidants in the Senate, helping him confirm conservative justices to the Supreme Court and a frequent partner on the golf course.