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Graham says Trump is 'ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party,' and is excited for 2022

"He's mad at some folks, but I understand that," Graham said during an interview on Fox News Sunday.

Updated: February 16, 2021 - 9:59am

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Senator Lindsey Graham during an interview on Fox News Sunday said that he had spoken to former President Donald Trump after the Senate voted to acquit the nation's 45th commander-in-chief of the single article of impeachment.

"Yeah, I spoke to him last night," the South Carolina Republican said. "He was grateful to his lawyers. He appreciated the help that all of us provided." Graham noted that Trump is "ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party. He's excited about 2022."

"He's mad at some folks, but I understand that," Graham said. 

Host Chris Wallace brought up Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's speech in which the Kentucky Republican sharply condemned former President Trump but said that he did not believe it is constitutional to impeach a former president. 

While McConnell did not vote to convict Trump, the lawmaker lambasted Trump during a speech after the Senate vote. "The House accused the former President of, quote, ‘incitement.’ That is a specific term from the criminal law. Let me just put that aside for a moment and reiterate something I said weeks ago: There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of" Jan. 6, McConnell said.

"If President Trump were still in office, I would've carefully considered whether the House managers proved their specific charge," McConnell said later during his speech. "By the strict criminal standard, the President’s speech probably was not incitement. However, however, in the context of impeachment, the Senate might have decided this was acceptable shorthand for the reckless actions that preceded the riot. But in this case, the question is moot because former President Trump is constitutionally not eligible for conviction."

Graham during the Fox News Sunday interview said that McConnell's speech will show up amid the 2022 election cycle.

Graham said that McConnell "got a load off his chest obviously. But unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans. That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns. I would imagine if you're a Republican running in Arizona, or Georgia, or New Hampshire, where we have a chance to take back the Senate, they may be playing Senator McConnell's speech and asking you about it as a candidate," Graham said, also noting that he anticipates GOP incumbents facing the questions about whether they will back McConnell in the future. 

The Senate voted on Saturday 57-43, falling short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict Trump on the article passed by the House last month during Trump's waning days in office.