Lindsey Graham's Quote About Trump 'Orbit' Pardons Resurfaces After 26 New Pardons Granted

After President Donald Trump issued a new round of pardons this week, including for individuals within his political sphere, a quote from Senator Lindsey Graham saying "it would not play out well," if the president pardoned his allies has resurfaced online.

In March 2019, the Republican Senator from South Carolina and a longtime Trump ally, told reporters, "If President Trump pardoned anybody in his orbit, it would not play well."

Flashback, March 2019: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters “if President Trump pardoned anybody in his orbit, it would not play well.”

— ChangeAbout (@ChangeAbout1) December 24, 2020

Graham's quote resurfaced after Trump issued a new round of 26 pardons and three commutations on Wednesday, in one of the final acts of his outgoing administration.

Among those most notably pardoned include Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone and Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

In 2004, Kushner pleaded guilty to 18 counts of tax evasion, witness tampering and making illegal campaign donations. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called Kushner's crime "one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes that I prosecuted when I was U.S. Attorney" during a January 2019 interview with PBS.

Nonetheless, Trump granted him a full pardon citing his devotion to philanthropy, writing that it "overshadows," his criminal record.

Both Stone and Manafort were brought down during an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller regarding Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort was convicted of crimes including tax fraud, bank fraud, and witness tampering related to his consulting work in the Ukraine, and was pardoned by Trump after approximately two years in prison.

Lindsey Graham
Remarks from Senator Lindsey Graham in 2019 discouraging Trump from pardoning his allies have resurfaced amid a new round of pardons issued by the president this week. In this photo, Graham presides over a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on November 17, in Washington, D.C. CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty

In 2019, Graham weighed in on the crime and said that "pardoning Manafort would be seen as a political disaster for the president."

"There may come a day down the road after the politics have changed that you would want to consider an application from him like everybody else, but now would be a disaster," Graham said at the time, according to CNBC.

In November 2019, Stone was convicted for seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing evidence into possible Trump campaign coordination with Russia. On Wednesday, Trump granted him a full and unconditional pardon to "help to right the injustices he faced at the hands of the Mueller investigation."

Trump's decision to pardon controversial individuals within his political sphere has been met with criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

GOP Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, issued a scathing six-word statement in response to Trump's pardons that said: "This is rotten to the core."

Former Republican and now Libertarian Party representative for Michigan, Justin Amash, tweeted: "I'm all for the pardon power, but it should be used in all instances to cure injustices, not to help friends and associates evade justice."

And Democratic Rep. Ayanna Presley of Massachusetts tweeted that, "Only in America: impeached, lost the election & handing out pardons for his corrupt friends while also carrying out an unprecedented execution spree."

Since the 2020 election, Trump has granted additional pardons to a number of Republican lawmakers, private security contractors in the Iraq war and individuals who have been convicted of drug offenses or various forms of fraud.

Newsweek reached out to Graham's office for additional comment but did not hear back in time for publication.