Transcript: Sen. Lindsey Graham on "Face on the Nation," July 7, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, on “Face the Nation” that aired on July 7, 2024.

ROBERT COSTA:  We go now to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. He joins us from Seneca, South Carolina. Senator Graham, good morning. You just heard from your colleague, Senator Bernie Sanders, he said he’s not going to meet with Senator Warner and those Democratic colleagues about the future of the ticket. You’ve been talking to former President Trump, your ally, in recent days, you’ve even played a little golf with Trump. What’s the view from Senate Republicans and especially from former President Trump about what’s happening across the aisle?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, I think most of us are concerned with the national security implications of this debate about President Biden’s health. Bernie Sanders’ problem with Biden is he’s not liberal enough. 70% of the public believes that President Biden is not mentally and physically capable of being President. 70% of the people believe the nation is on the wrong track. Most Democrats are worried about Biden winning the election. I’m worried about Biden- Biden being the commander in chief for the next four months. We’re having a meeting with NATO in Washington next week. On October 7th Israel’s attacked by Hamas. On October 8th President Biden gives an interview to the Special Counsel, where they determined him to be a nice man with a bad memory and you couldn’t convince a jury. He did anything wrong. I want those tapes released. So what I’d like to see is President Biden take a cognitive test. I think everybody going forward in the line of succession should-


ROBERT COSTA: Should have a President Trump as well? 

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yes, yes, I think both. All nominees for President going into the future should have neurological exams as part of an overall physical exam. I think people in the line of succession should have a neurological exam. My predecessor, Senator Thurman was a very vigorous man, but he was 100. He was the speaker pro tem of the Senate. This is a wake up call for the country. We need to make sure that the people who are going to be in the line of succession are capable of being commander in chief under dire circumstances. Here’s what I worry about, that our allies see a compromised Joe Biden, that our enemies see a compromised Joe Biden, and I’m offended by the idea that he shouldn’t take a competency test given all the evidence in front of us. He is not only in denial, this is a dangerous time for the American people to have somebody at the ship- leading the ship of state who seems to be compromised. So at a minimum, take a competency exam became President Biden and Trump.

ROBERT COSTA: Speaking of a wake up call, many Democrats are alarmed at what the Supreme Court did this past week in terms of ruling on presidential immunity, saying that presidents effectively have immunity when it comes to official acts. You are very close to former President Trump. This is someone who pushed to overturn the election in late 2020, early 2021. He pushed officials who are working in official capacity like then Vice President Mike Pence to the brink in terms of how to use their official powers. How will Trump use power in a second term in the wake of this Supreme Court ruling?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, you’re gonna have the NATO leader on next. I think what President Trump will do when it comes to NATO is pick up where you left off. Pay more, about 18 members of NATO pay the 2% required. Sam Nunn had a proposal in 1986–

ROBERT COSTA: But I’m talking about senators and how he’s going to use power inside the White House and the administration. 

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM::  I think he’s going to use power to get NATO to pay more. I think he’s going to secure the border by using executive action. I think he’s going to be a damn good president to write this ship. I think he opened up American to oil and gas exploration. I think he’s gonna do undo all the problems created by Biden. The question is, will it be on a revenge tour, he’s going to be on a success tour. He’s going to get us energy independent, he’s going to control our borders. He’s going to get our NATO allies to pay more. We have to deal with China. We’re the sole supplier of arms for Israel. NATO should pay more. I’m a big internationalist in terms of a Republican. 


ROBERT COSTA: What gives you confidence about that, Senator Graham.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I want to tell- because of what he did before.

ROBERT COSTA: Well he’s had a lot of grievances on social media and his speeches in recent weeks. 

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: When he was President of the United States, he had the most secure border in American history. When he was President of the United States, we had Arabs making peace with Israel, when President of the United States, we were energy independent, inflation was down. The best indication of what Trump will do in the future, policy wise, is what he did in the past. I love a policy debate. You know, Senator Sanders wants a policy debate, bring it on. The policy of socialism versus the policy of freedom. 

ROBERT COSTA: Senators– 

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: That’s what this is about. bUT, I’m worried right now about the capability of our president to be commander in chief.


Senator Graham, you want to make this about policy and that’s- that’s a fair point to make as a US Senator, but in recent weeks, former President Trump on his social media has been amplifying calls, circulating posts, calling for televised military tribunals. That’s his phrase that he amplified on his social media for people like former Congresswoman Liz Cheney, you say he’s not going to be on a revenge tour. But he’s been posting on his social media about not only taking revenge, but having televised military tribunals and you’re someone who has served this country in uniform. Do you agree with his push, an amplification of those proposals?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Here’s what I know. I know we’re not going to have televised tribunals or trials of Liz Cheney or anybody else. Here’s what I do believe. I do believe that the country is at an inflection point. This is the most important election, literally in decades, maybe ever. If you want to change the course we’re on, you need to go back to President Trump. Policy does matter. I am confident that if he’s President of the United States, very quickly, we’ll get our border under control, we’ll become energy independent again. And we’ll bolster our allies and we’ll put our enemies on their back foot. This is a very dangerous time. I do not believe, I like President Biden. But what I’ve seen, I am very concerned that this man is not capable of being commander in chief for four more months. So let’s have testing to resolve this debate. Let’s test Trump. Let’s test Biden. Let’s test everybody in the line of succession.

ROBERT COSTA: You’ve made that clear. Senator Graham, you’ve played golf with former President Trump. We all know you support Senator Tim Scott, your colleague from South Carolina to be Trump’s running mate. 


ROBERT COSTA: One has Trump decided privately on his running mate, and who’s- who are the front runners in your view?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I don’t think he’s decided. I’m a big Tim Scott fan because I’m gonna expand the map. Now, I believe before this is all said and done, that President Biden most likely will be replaced. And Kamala Harris is going to be very vigorous, but she’s for the green New Deal. She’s for Medicare for All. She’s more like Bernie Sanders on policy. But if I were president Trump, I would make sure I pick somebody that could add value in 2024. Expand the map, take- prosecute the case against the liberals–

ROBERT COSTA:  Who should that be? If it’s not Senator Scott, if not, Senator Scott, who should it be?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, there’s three people being talked about. Burgum solid as a rock in North Dakota. JD Vance would be- is aligned with President Trump in many ways. He could be a good wingman. Can he expand the map? Marco Rubio, you got a problem in Florida. I think he’s a very articulate conservative that could help a President Trump enormously. but somebody’s not being talked about that should be in my view, is Younkin from Virginia. If we win Virginia, we win. It is over. So I’m hoping President Trump is looking for a VP pick that not only can carry on the American first agenda after he leaves, but also win in 2024. I think the VP pick by both parties if Biden steps down, Harris is going to have to pick somebody to help her. If she does become the nominee. This is a dramatically different race than it is right now today. I hope people are thinking about that on our side.

ROBERT COSTA: Senator Graham. Thank you. I know somebody in Richmond, Virginia right now is perking up their ears at that mentioned in this season. We’ll be right back with a lot more Face the Nation stay with us.

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