Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News’s “Sunday Night in America” host Trey Gowdy that there would be street riots if Donald Trump is prosecuted for the “mishandling of classified documents” when he left the White House. If anyone missed his statement, the retired Air Force lawyer and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee used the phrase twice.
South Carolina’s Senator compared the FBI’s search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence with the agency’s interactions against Trump enemies, Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden.
The only similarity of these investigations is each subject is a political figure who seemingly violated the law. The first two are minor when comparing Clinton using a private email server or Biden’s tax liabilities against Trump’s possible charges of obstruction of justice, criminal handling of government records, and espionage. Clearly, the former president did not simply mishandle classified documents as his supporters claim; he attempted to steal them.
After the protests-turned-riots during Trump’s presidency and the January 6th attack against the United States Capitol, Americans are concerned about threats against democracy, and Graham’s dark statement is no exception. However, his threat of riots in the street is not much different than calling for a new civil war or shouting 1776. Calls for civil war flooded the airwaves, and social media increased after the FBI seized 15 cartons of documents at Mar-a-Lago. So Graham’s threat nearly two weeks later is old news. Moreover, since America is already embroiled in a “cold civil war,” his statement bears no weight.
Does the Senator’s statement suggest there would be an escalation from a verbal and passive-aggressive war to one that is physical if Trump is prosecuted?
Many Americans are tired of the former president’s and his followers’ complaints and conspiracies, making Graham’s riots threat ineffective with non-MAGA people. Nonetheless, they are not ignoring civil war threats, and, despite Democrats’ call for stricter gun laws, they are arming themselves.
Critics disparaged Graham for making the statement despite Kevin Bishop, a Graham spokesperson, emphasizing that the Senator was not making a threat but a prediction.
The Washington Post reported that Richard Haass, president of the nonpartisan think tank Council on Foreign Relations, admonished the Senator’s so-called prediction on Twitter:
[Graham’s] prediction that violence may follow any prosecution of the former Potus may not qualify legally as incitement, but it is irresponsible all the same as it will be seen by some as a call for violence. Public officials are obligated to call for the rule of law.
Although she did not mention Graham by name, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized “extreme Republicans” for their dangerous” comments about violence. Others called the Senator’s statements irresponsible and shameful, reported The Washington Post.
Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to support one of his once harshest critics turned staunch advocate, Trump posted the threat that Graham told Fox News on Truth Social.
The Senator did not express dismay over the prospect of violence. Instead, he referred to riots in the streets twice. Graham believes violent outrage against Trump’s treatment by Homeland Security, DOJ Merrick Garland, the FBI, and America’s judicial system is justified.
The Washington Post: There will be ‘riots in the street’ if Trump is prosecuted, Graham says; by Kim Bellware
The New York Times: Graham Predicts ‘Riots in the Streets’ if Trump Is Prosecuted; by Jonathan Weisman
The Guardian: Graham predicts ‘riots in streets’ if Trump is prosecuted over classified records; by Martin Pengelly