The senator spoke with MacCallum on the same day President Joe Biden was inaugurated and former President Donald Trump officially left the White House and gave his farewell speech.
Graham, who attended Biden’s inauguration, expressed that Trump has altered the Republican Party for good, and he will be working to prevent a Senate impeachment trial in the effort to halt permanent factions within the GOP.
“I hope people in our party understand the party itself. If you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re gonna get erased,” Graham told MacCallum. “Most Republicans like his policies, a lot of Republicans like his style. A lot of people are disappointed with him personally at times but appreciate the outcomes he’s achieved for our country.”
The Republican Party remains divided over allegiance to Trump following the riots at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6. Leaders such as House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney , who voted for the former president’s impeachment, split away from Trump’s version of conservatism. The result has been an image crisis for the GOP, which is struggling to find a leader with all three branches of government suddenly led by Democrats .
MacCallum asked Graham of Trump’s departing promise to ” be back in some form ,” and whether the former commander in chief would split from the GOP to create a new political party.
“I hope he doesn’t, I hope he’ll stay the leader of the Republican Party,” Graham responded. He added that the past four years were full of Republican-led victories in strengthening the military, gaining three conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court judges, enhancing border control and leading policy in the Middle East. “I hope President Trump understands that his legacy and his best future lies with the Republican Party,” the senator added.
If the senate pursues impeachment, Trump splitting from the Party is likely — so Graham said he is working within his means to push against a trial. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer , Graham wrote that disqualifying Trump from a second presidential term via an impeachment trial would be an ” unconstitutional act of political vengeance .”
Just minutes after Biden’s inauguration, the senator also gave an interview from the U.S. Capitol Building with CBS News in which Graham called on McConnell to “unequivocally” go against a second impeachment trial, adding that the 74 million people who voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election are not those who stormed the Capitol, and shouldn’t be treated as such.
“This idea of moving forward without Donald Trump in the Republican Party is a disaster for the Republican Party,” Graham said to MacCallum. “The one way Democrats can survive is for the Republican Party to crack up. The best way for the Republican Party to crack up is to try to move forward without Donald Trump.”
However, some Republicans think the party needs a leader who is capable of capturing Trump’s essence.
“Throughout the country, we see tremendous support for the president among the base because folks support the policies that put our country and our people first,” said Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz on Fox News Tuesday. He added that Trump’s ” spirit ” is needed in new Republican leadership, but in Washington, the Republican Party is not “immune from the temptations of the establishment.”
Graham did not answer MacCallum’s question whether or not he would support a second Trump presidential campaign, but he did share his vision for Trump in the future:
“He’s going to be a potent force in the Republican Party. I hope he will help us take back the Senate and regain control of the House, that’s really the first step…but if he does run again I think there will be a lot of support in the Party for him.”
Graham’s Washington, D.C. office did not respond to Newsweek ‘s request for comment.