Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., revealed on Wednesday that President Donald Trump called him after the senator’s tearful tribute speech to the late Sen. John McCain, telling him, “you did right by your friend.”
During an appearance on CNN, anchor Dana Bash asked Graham how he can square his friendship with McCain to being willing to “carry the water” for Trump.
“It’s pretty simple, if you knew anything about me. I want to be relevant,” Graham responded. “I want to make sure this president, Donald Trump, who I didn’t vote for and ran against, is successful.”
He added, “I regret the relationship between the two. John is my dearest friend in the world, and I am going to try to help President Trump, and I will. I think ‘Country First’ means that.”
The South Carolinian went on to say that when Trump speaks poorly of McCain, “it pisses me off.”
“He called yesterday after my speech, and he couldn’t have been nicer,” Graham recounted. “He said, ‘That was very sad. I just want to let you know you did right by your friend.’”
“To those who say the only way you can honor John McCain is to fight Donald Trump and try to kick him out of office, I don’t agree,” the senator said.
Graham and Bash talked about Graham’s emotional tribute from the Senate floor during which he said, “It is going to be a lonely journey for me for a while. I am going to need your help, and the void to be filled by John’s passing is more than I can fill.”
“What hit me was the desk,” he recalled to Bash. “Funerals are for a reason. They’re for the living.”
“They give us a chance to remember what we’ve lost and how we can cope with it. It hit me really hard when I saw the cloth on the desk, because I’ve sat next to that desk by him for years talking about everything under the sun, and that will be an empty desk. My life has changed like everybody who knew John.”
Graham told NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday that Trump had gotten to the right place in terms of honoring McCain’s service to the country while acknowledging the two men often didn’t see eye-to-eye.
“John Kelly, (the White House) chief of staff has been terrific,” the lawmaker said. “The president told Gen. Kelly whatever they need, they get,” referring to the McCain family.
CNN reported that besides his Senate tribute speech, Graham will read a scripture at McCain’s memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on Saturday and speak at his burial service on Sunday at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
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