Sen. Lindsey Graham and ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos got into a heated back-and-forth during a live interview Sunday about the federal indictment against ex-President Donald Trump.
The South Carolina Republican — who has endorsed Trump as the GOP candidate for president in 2024 — exploded at the “This Week” co-anchor after he was asked to clarify if he believed the former president’s claims that he “did nothing wrong” in .
“No, let me finish!,” Graham barked.
The tense moment took place just 30 seconds into the interview, after Graham started to compare the case against the candidate to former Secretary of State , which prompted an FBI investigation in the home stretch of the 2016 presidential race, which she ultimately lost to Trump.
“Well, here’s what I believe, we live in an America where if you’re the Democratic candidate for president … you can set up a private server, in your basement, to conduct government business, and when an investigation is had about your activity,” Graham began as Stephanopoulos interjected.
“But Senator…,” Stephanopoulos said as he attempted to steer Graham back to his original question about Trump’s claims that he had not committed any wrongdoing — prompting the sharp rebuttal from the senator.
“But you didn’t answer the question,” the anchor insisted.
“This panel you had was ridiculous,” Graham countered, referencing a previous segment on the program featuring legal observers, as he grew visibly agitated.
“I’m trying to answer the question from a Republican point of view,” Graham continued. “That may not be acceptable on this show.
“Yes, I don’t like what President Trump did in certain aspects. I don’t like that Joe Biden had classified information on the garage; I don’t like that Mike Pence carelessly took classified information; I don’t like any of that,” he said.
“But what I don’t like is a system in America where the secretary of state, who’s a Democratic candidate for president, has people take a hammer to social media devices and break them apart, apply bleach bit to a hard drive to erase emails, allow classified information to get on a felon’s computer — — you haven’t even mentioned that,” Graham added.
“Most Republicans believe that we live in a country where Hillary Clinton did very similar things and nothing happened to her,” Graham said angrily.
“Did he do things wrong? Yes, he may have. He will be tried about that,” the senator ultimately conceded about Trump, who was hit with a 37-count federal indictment Friday for allegedly hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
Graham went on to say that charges of espionage against the former president and current candidate were “ridiculous” and that he believed his political ally had been “overcharged.”
Trump, 76, was charged by special counsel Jack Smith with 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act in addition to conspiracy, making false statements and other raps in connection to hundreds of top secret files found at his Florida resort last summer.
He and told his supporters that he is the subject of political persecution by the Biden administration’s Justice Department.
The indictment marked the first time in US history that a former president has faced federal criminal charges. Trump is also facing multiple felony fraud charges in the Stormy Daniels “hush money” case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and is embroiled in other state and federal investigations in connection to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and alleged interference in the 2020 election.
An internal State Department investigation cited 588 security violations by 38 employees in connection to the Clinton email scandal but found “no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.”
A Department of Justice inquiry said it was a “serious error in judgment” for the FBI to notify Congress of the investigation a week before the election, but said the decision not to prosecute Clinton for mishandling classified information was consistent with prosecutors’ historical approach.