Lindsey Graham Would Tell McConnell GOP Won't Regain Senate Majority Without Donald Trump

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that he would tell Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, that the GOP won't regain a majority in the Senate without the support of former President Donald Trump.

McConnell and Trump have made highly critical statements about each other in the wake of Trump's impeachment acquittal. McConnell, formerly one of Trump's strongest allies, said Saturday that Trump bore responsibility for the January riot at the U.S. Capitol building which left five people dead.

In a Tuesday statement, Trump claimed that the GOP would never be "respected or strong" again while McConnell remained in leadership. During an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Graham said he would tell McConnell was important to the future of the GOP.

"What I would say to Senator McConnell, I know Trump can be a handful but he is the most dominant figure in the Republican Party," Graham said. "We don't have a snowball's chance in hell of taking back the majority without Donald Trump. If you don't get that, you're just not looking."

Graham said that he was "sorry" for the events of the riot and that Trump would "get his fair share of blame."

"But to my Republican colleagues in the Senate, let's try to work together," Graham said. "Realize that without President Trump, we're never going to get back in the majority."

McConnell voted to acquit Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, saying that the Constitution did not give lawmakers the power to impeach a president once they had left office. After the proceedings had concluded, McConnell said in floor remarks that Trump was "practically and morally responsible" for inciting the riot.

Trump had often claimed that the presidential election had been stolen from him by Democrats through voter fraud. Many of Trump's critics, including McConnell, blamed Trump's rhetoric for the environment in which the riot occurred. McConnell described the rioters' belief in Trump's baseless claims as "a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated President kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth."

lindsey graham says GOP needs Trump support
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that the GOP would never regain a majority in the Senate without former President Donald Trump. Stefani Reynolds/Getty

In his Monday statement, Trump alleged that McConnell was "destroying the Republican side of the Senate."

"Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again," Trump wrote. "He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country."

Newsweek reached out to the offices of McConnell and Trump for comment.

Democrats obtained a majority in the U.S. Senate in 2021, the first time the party had held the majority of seats since 2011. In January, the results of special Senate elections in Georgia sent two Democrats to the chamber, ousting the two Republican incumbents. California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Alex Padilla, California's former secretary of state, to the seat left vacant by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Although Republicans and Democrats each effectively hold 50 seats in the Senate, Democrat Harris would be responsible for casting any tie-breaking votes in her capacity as Senate President.

According to Ballotpedia, 34 Senate seats will be contested in the regular 2022 election. Four Republican incumbent Senators have announced they would not seek reelection in 2022.