- Lindsey Graham expressed to Trump that he needed to “repair the damage” with Pence, a new book says.
- The senator articulated to Trump that the former president’s attacks on Pence were “unfair.”
- In advance of the 2022 midterms, Graham told Trump he could provide a boost for GOP incumbents.
After President Donald Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial in February and his subsequent acquittal for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Sen. Lindsey Graham had a conversation with Trump about the future.
The South Carolina Republican, who became a close confidant of Trump during his presidency, wanted him to boost Republicans who are up for reelection in 2022, but the former president was still fixated on going after GOP lawmakers like Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming who had voted to impeach him.
However, as Graham tried to steer Trump in the direction of providing political aid to conservative lawmakers, he also told the president he needed to resolve any lingering issues with Vice President Mike Pence, according to a new book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.
Pence, Trump’s loyal No. 2 for four years, had drawn Trump’s ire for certifying the 2020 presidential election results that affirmed now-President Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory.
Graham’s appeals to Trump regarding Pence were met with a cool reception, which Woodward and Costa detailed in “Peril.”
“Mr. President, for us to be successful in 2022, we’ve got to put our best team in the field,” Graham said during a phone call, according to the book. In the call, Graham spoke of GOP incumbents including Sens. John Boozman of Arkansas and John Hoeven of North Dakota who might benefit from a “Trump bump.”
“The sooner that you can come out and support them, the better,” Graham stressed, before pivoting to the Pence dilemma.
While Trump selected Pence to be his running mate in 2016 with the former Indiana governor’s strength among social conservatives as a strong selling point, Trump, by himself, had a firm grip over the party.
Trump demanded allegiance — and Graham knew Pence defying the former president’s wishes to overturn the 2020 election results was still on his mind — especially since the former president has continued to baselessly insist the election was stolen from him.
“The main thing you’ve got to do is repair the damage with Mike Pence,” Graham said, according to the book. “I think there’s universal belief that Mike Pence was incredibly loyal to you and you treated him poorly.”
The former president reportedly responded: “No way.”
Graham continued: “You got caught up in losing the election you thought you won. I get that. But you asked more of Mike Pence than he could deliver, and you said things about him that were unfair. And I think the best thing for you, Mr. President, is to fix that if you can.”
The characteristically animated Trump was reportedly silent at the senator’s suggestion.
According to CNN, Pence reportedly had “no ill will” toward the former president over the deadly January 6 riot. As he was attempting to certify the election, the former vice president was rushed to a secure location within the Capitol complex as insurrectionists invaded the main building.
Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to Pence, said earlier this year that Pence and Trump “departed amicably” from the White House.