Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump could win the GOP nomination for Richard Burr’s seat in North Carolina when the senator retires in 2022, after he joined six other Republicans to convict the former president at his impeachment trial.
“My friend Richard Burr just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs,” Senator Graham told Fox News on Sunday.
Mr Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, also said that Mr Trump “is the most vibrant member” and “the most potent force” in the party, and that “the Trump movement is alive and well.”
The senator said Ms Trump – a North Carolina native, former Trump campaign adviser and wife to Eric Trump – “represents the future of the Republican Party”.
Ms Trump – who also campaigned with far-right anti-Islam congressional candidate Laura Loomer – emerged as a key campaign surrogate during the 2020 race. During the bitter campaign season, she was forced to deny she had mocked Joe Biden’s stutter and suggested he was suffering cognitive decline.
Sen Graham’s comments follow the former president’s acquittal in the Senate in his impeachment trial, falling short of a two-thirds majority vote to secure a conviction despite a majority bipartisan vote that found him guilty for inciting the Capitol insurrection on 6 January.
Mr Graham said that it was “politically protected speech” and that the former president bears no responsibility for the assault that sought to intimidate and attack lawmakers who had convened to certify the 2020 presidential election results.
Senator Burr and Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana were immediately censured by their state Republican parties for their votes to convict Mr Trump.
Republican lawmakers now reckon with an emboldened former president, twice-impeached and twice-acquitted, along with his faithful base of supporters.
“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” Mr Trump said in a statement on Saturday. “In the months ahead I have much to share with you and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.”
Mr Graham called the impeachment trial “an affront to rule of law” that had “opened Pandora’s Box to future presidents.”
“And if you use this model, I don’t know how Kamala Harris doesn’t get impeached if the Republicans take over the House,” he added, suggesting that Republicans intend to retaliate against their perceived political enemies for impeaching Mr Trump.
Republican congressman Mark Walker also intends to run for Mr Burr’s senate seat.
He has the support of freshman GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, both staunch supporters of Mr Trump.
“Wrong vote, Sen Burr,” Congressman Walker said on Twitter following the vote on Saturday. “I am running to replace Richard Burr because North Carolina needs a true conservative champion as their next senator.”
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