Lindsey Graham Says People Angry Over Trump's McCain Attacks 'Don't Really Care:' 'You Just Hate Trump'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke out about his close friendship with former Sen. John McCain and the criticism he has received for failing to hold President Donald Trump accountable for his attacks of the late Arizona senator months after his passing.

During a CNN segment on Wednesday, Graham discussed Trump's recent attacks on McCain, which was apparently prompted by recent allegations that the latter gave details of the infamous Steele Dossier to the FBI. Last week, Graham noted that McCain "acted appropriately" in doing so.

When asked by host Kate Bolduan whether he regrets advising McCain to hand the dossier to the FBi, he replied: "Not at all. So in December, somebody gave the dossier to McCain. He didn't give it to the press. He said, 'I don't know, what do you think?' I said, listen, I don't know if it's true, it could be a bunch of garbage, it could be true. It's not our job to figure it out. Hand it to the FBI. The FBI had the dossier months before, but we didn't know. But what do we know now? We know now that the information with the dossier is unverified to this day."

In response to allegations that McCain "shopped" the document "all over town," Graham asserted that the late senator acted responsibly with the dossier. "I'm not out to please the president about John McCain. He's my friend, John McCain. I loved the guy to death. He's an American hero," the senator added. "I want to help the president, and I like him."

Graham went on to comment on the criticisms he's received for not forcefully intervening in Trump's attacks on McCain. "He was one of my dearest friends," he said, and "it's okay for John McCain and Donald Trump to disagree."

"The bottom line here is I'm going to help President Trump... I'll honor my friend until the day I die, but this president feels like people around McCain were out to get him. John McCain wasn't," Graham added.

The South Carolina senator then argued that the people who are angry about Trump's comments are just Americans who "hate" the president. "To all those people who bring up this narrative, you just hate Trump. You don't really care about McCain and me," he said. "I know this. This is a game. You're not offended about me and McCain; you're trying to use me to get to Trump. I'm not playing that game."

"If you think the only way to honor John McCain is to tell this president, 'I won't work with you, I won't ever help you,' that's your agenda, not mine," Graham added. "My agenda is two-fold, to honor my friend for the rest of my life in any way I can, and help this president be successful, and I'm not into this idea that the only way to honor John McCain is to trash out Trump."

Earlier this month, Trump launched another round of attacks on McCain — who passed away from brain cancer last August — for allegedly playing a part in providing the FBI with the Steele Dossier and voting against repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

"Spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier 'is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain.' Ken Starr, Former Independent Counsel," the president tweeted. "He had far worse 'stains' than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace!"

The president added in a later tweet: "So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) 'last in his class' (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!"

Despite being widely-criticized for his comments, Trump doubled down on expressing his frustrations against McCain in the days following, telling reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that he "was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) holds a news conference to discuss the summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation at the U.S. Capitol March 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. Graham on Wednesday said Americans who are angry over the president's attacks on McCain "don't really care" and "just hate Trump." Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla