Remember back in 2015 when then-candidate Donald Trump went public with the cell phone number for South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, also a presidential candidate at the time?
Trump went on to become president in one of the most stunning political stories in U.S history. Along the way, he dismissed criticism from Graham, who withdrew from the presidential race before the 2016 South Carolina primary.
Here’s wishing Trump would find Graham’s number and give the senator a call — or at least pay attention to what Graham says in national forums.
The Republican senator, whose stature has grown nationally since the campaign, is a force in the upper chamber. Beyond that, he gets a lot of attention as a frequent Trump critic. But that has made his words in defense of Trump even more significant. And his advice to the president is sound.
• Ahead of Thursday’s Senate testimony by former FBI Director James Comey, Graham said many of the president's actions are troubling — but that does not make them criminal.
Graham told CBS's Gayle King that it was inappropriate for Trump to tell Comey that he needed his loyalty over dinner, as the former FBI director alleged in testimony released Wednesday.
"Half of what Trump does is not OK," he said. "If you are trying to convict him for being a bull in a China shop, crude and rude, you'd win."
"A lot of this stuff troubles me, but it is not a crime.”
• On Wednesday, Graham said Comey's opening statement for his hearing at the Senate intelligence committee shows "there is no obstruction of justice case" against Trump.
"What prosecutor in their right mind would allow their star witness to go out before the Senate panel of 20 senators and get beat up if he really believed he had a case?" he asked in an interview with Fox News. "This is the best evidence yet that in the mind of the special counsel, there is no obstruction of justice case to be made against President Trump. All in all, it's a pretty good day for President Trump."
And Graham stated: "Comey has now told us all that the president is not under investigation as an individual for colluding with Russia. President Trump is not a target or subject to a criminal investigation or counterintelligence investigation regarding colluding with the Russians.”
• Speaking to Fox News’ Bret Baier, Graham, a former prosecutor, then offered this advice to Trump: “You need to listen to your lawyers, Mr. President. I am trying to help you, but every time you tweet it makes it harder on all of us who are trying to help you. I don’t think you did anything wrong. Don’t get in the way of an investigation that could actually clear you.”
Amen. We’ll say again after the Comey hearing that it’s time to quickly get to the bottom of the “Russia matter” and move ahead — with Trump as president. National paralysis helps nothing and no one.