Lindsey Graham Says GOP Can't Move Forward Without Donald Trump

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has said the GOP cannot move forward without former President Donald Trump amid disagreements over his future role in the Republican Party.

His comments come as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third most senior Republican in the House, continues to criticize the former president.

This has seen some GOP lawmakers in the lower chamber move to oust her from her position as chair of the House Republican Conference.

"Can I just say to my Republican colleagues—can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no," Graham said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday.

"I've always liked Liz Cheney but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I've determined we can't grow without him."

Graham spoke of people being attracted to "the Trump Republican Party," pointing to "economic populism" and an "America first agenda."

The South Carolina senator has previously commented on the impact he feels Trump can have over the future of the GOP.

In March, after Trump's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Graham said that the former president had the power to destroy the Republican Party.

But he also said Trump could rebuild it as a bigger and more diverse coalition. In an interview with Axios, Graham said Trump has a "dark side" but also "some magic there."

While Graham has backed Trump to have a role in the GOP moving forward, the pair have had disagreements in the past.

In February 2016 when he was running for president, Trump blasted the South Carolina Senator, who was also running for leadership at the time.

"I think Lindsey Graham is a disgrace, and I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States, and I don't think he should run," Trump said of Graham at a campaign event in South Carolina.

Despite high-profile support for Trump from figures such as Graham, Cheney has made her position on the former president clear.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post earlier this week she said the GOP should "steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality."

She was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump back in February, following the violence at the Capitol in January 6. Cheney has also said she would not support Trump if he became the GOP's 2024 presidential nominee. Trump has said he is considering a future White House run and polling has shown he is among the frontrunners for the candidacy, should he go for it.

Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has received support from Trump to replace Cheney as conference chair. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) has also backed Stefanik to do so.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) defended Cheney on Thursday, saying that "her crime" was acknowledging Trump lost the election. Former Republican presidential candidate Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) has also lent support to Cheney.

Newsweek has contacted Cheney and Graham's offices for comment.

Lindsey Graham in D.C.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Graham said the Republican party cannot move forward without former U.S. President Donald Trump. Evelyn Hockstein/Getty