According to audio obtained by New York Times reporters Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said President Joe Biden was the “best person to have” leading the country after a mob of former President Donald Trump's attacked the United States Capitol on the false premise that the 2020 general election was stolen.
Burns and Martin report on the audio in their new book, This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future. In the first audio clip, Graham can be heard saying that the United States would come out "stronger" in the wake of the Capitol riot.
"Moments like this reset. People will calm down. People will say, 'I don't want to be associated with that.'"
"This is a group within a group. What this does, there will be a rallying effect for a while, (then) the country says, 'We're better than this.'"
Graham then gives an affirmative response when asked whether Biden will help guide the country to that point, adding:
"He'll maybe be the best person to have. I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?"
A separate audiotape played by CNN shows that Graham said former President Trump "misjudged the passion" of his supporters, saying that his actions had radicalized them ahead of the attack.
Graham said that Trump, a former reality television personality "plays the TV game and he went too far here," pointing to Trump's attacks against Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney, who has pushed back against Trump's falsehoods about the 2020 general election.
The news of the audiotape quickly went viral and many have accused Graham, one of Trump's staunchest allies in Congress, of blatant hypocrisy.
Graham and Biden have known each other for decades, particularly since they served in the Senate together before Biden left the chamber to take up the mantle as the Vice President under former President Barack Obama.
But the relationship between the two men has publicly deteriorated in the last few years, underscored by the President recently referring to Graham as "a personal disappointment" when asked about their relationship.
In December 2020, Biden told talk show host Stephen Colbert that Graham has "been a personal disappointment because I was a personal friend of his," a sign of how much the tides have changed between the two under the Trump administration.
Despite his allegiance to Trump, Graham has not necessarily marched in lockstep behind him, as when he criticized Trump for pledging to pardon individuals who participated in the Capitol riot should he take office in 2024.
Graham suggested that Trump's rhetoric is dangerous and "inappropriate," stressing that he hopes those who participated in the attack "go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it.”