Donald Trump Says 'RINO' Lindsey Graham Is 'Wrong' on Pardons for Capitol Rioters

Former President Donald Trump has hit out at Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), calling him a "Republican in name only" because he criticized the idea of pardoning convicted January 6 rioters.

Trump told Newsmax on Tuesday that the South Carolina lawmaker was a "nice guy" but was wrong to oppose pardons for the people who stormed the Capitol last year.

The former president floated the idea of pardons during a "Save America" rally in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday in remarks that appeared to be part of a fresh pitch to his voting base.

On Tuesday, Newsmax's Rob Schmitt asked Trump about Graham's reaction to the idea.

"You talked about the potential, if it's appropriate, of pardoning some of the January 6ers," Schmitt said. "Lindsey Graham said a couple days later, he thinks that's inappropriate. What do you think?"

Trump replied: "Well, Lindsey Graham's wrong. I mean, Lindsey's a nice guy, but he's a RINO. Lindsey's wrong."

RINO—"Republican in name only"—is a criticism that the former president frequently levels at his critics in the party.

Later in the Newsmax interview, Trump said: "Some of these people are not guilty. Many of these people are not guilty. What they've done to these and in many cases they're patriots. They're soldiers, they're policemen."

The former president added that those who took in the Capitol riot weren't receiving "equal justice."

"So, I would absolutely be prepared—and Lindsey Graham doesn't know what the hell he's talking about if he says that," Trump said. "Because you have to have equal justice. It's very, very unfair what's happened to this group of people."

During his Texas rally, Trump told supporters: "If I run and I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly."

Graham was asked about those comments on Sunday during an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation.

"I don't want to send any signal that it was OK to defile the Capitol," Graham said. "There are other groups with causes that may want to go down the violent path if these people get pardoned."

"I think it's inappropriate. I don't want to reinforce that defiling the Capitol was OK. I don't want to do anything that would make this more likely in the future," the senator said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has also distanced himself from the idea, telling The Hill on Tuesday: "My view is: I would not be in favor of shortening any of the sentences for any of the people who pleaded guilty to crimes."

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, more than 650 people have been charged over the January 6 riot. About 150 have pleaded guilty to storming the Capitol, Politico reported.

Newsweek has asked Lindsey Graham's office for comment on Trump's remarks.

Composite Image Shows Graham and Trump
A composite photo shows Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former President Donald Trump. Trump floated the idea of pardons for convicted rioters at a rally in Texas. Getty Images