South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of President Donald Trump's slightly more outspoken critics within the Republican Party, weighed in on the business mogul's baseless claims of phone tapping during a town hall in Clemson.
The senator, who briefly ran for president in 2015, told the raucous town hall audience if former President Barack Obama had listened in to Trump's phone conversations, either legally or illegally, it would be the biggest scandal since Watergate.
“I don’t know if it’s true or not, but if it is true, illegally, it would be the biggest political scandal since Watergate,” Graham said, drawing jeers from a decidedly anti-Trump crowd.
He also used the opportunity to explain why it would be equally upsetting if Obama administration legally tapped the former reality TV star's phone calls.
“The other side of the story? Just be quiet for a second — if the former president of the United States was able to obtain a warrant lawfully to monitor Trump’s campaign for violating a law, that would be the biggest scandal since Watergate,” he added.
If it was done legally, Graham pointed out, it would be to investigate “Trump campaign activity with foreign governments" (aka the Russians).
He concluded by saying that whatever the reason may have been, he as a senator will get to the bottom of this.
Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis has refuted Trump's claims.
“As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: If Obama was able to obtain a warrant against Trump lawfully, "that would be the biggest scandal since Watergate." pic.twitter.com/l9sw7pcA7Y— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 4, 2017
The crowd at the Clemson town hall, which according to some estimates was close to 1,000, was visibly enraged at the commander-in-chief's contentious policies.
Loud and unruly, the crowd expressed the resentment that President Trump's decisions, and leaks revealing the extent of his cabinet members' close ties with Russia, have invoked.
Speaking about Betsy DeVos, who has no credentials for her job as Education Secretary, the senator said she was fully qualified for the position, and claimed that since Trump was in power, he could build a cabinet of his choice.
It was comments like these, supporting Trump, that drew the loudest boos from the constituents. Graham, however, stood his ground.
"People came here thinking if you yell at me enough, I'm going to stop being a conservative," Graham said, replying to the criticism. "I'm not."
Other times, he was unrestrained in his condemnation of a group of people he believed were more invested in bringing down Trump, than in the future of the country.
"It's really important that we get this right," Graham said about a probe into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 elections. "But most of you don't care about getting it right, you just want to get Trump."
Although the senator has been more than willing to criticize Trump, he made it clear that he supported the president and was on board with him.
“Number one, I agree with him, mostly, and I’d like to get this country moving again,” he said.
Trump, with his outrageous policy decisions and a nonchalant attitude towards presidency, may have upset many Americans who did not expect much from him to begin with.
But one demographic whose ire he has earned is that of the Republican voters, who have been heading to town halls and getting into heated arguments with their representatives over plans to roll back Obamacare or over Trump administration's alleged links with Russia.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Mohamed Abd El Ghany