Republicans, Democrats slam Lindsey Graham after he calls for Putin’s assassination
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was rebuked by lawmakers from across the political spectrum after calling for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Is there a Brutus in Russia?” asked Graham via Twitter Thursday evening. “Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service.”
Graham was referring to Marcus Junius Brutus, who was among Julius Caesar’s assassins in 44 B.C., and Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler with a briefcase bomb in 1944 and was executed after the Nazi leader survived the blast.
The Republican senator explained his reasoning by adding, “The only people who can fix this are the Russian people. Easy to say, hard to do. Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness you need to step up to the plate.”
President Biden and other NATO leaders have been insistent about avoiding war with Russia, a nation with an estimated 6,000 nuclear weapons. Ukraine has so far held out against the Russian invasion that began last week, but Friday saw the shelling and takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and the continued siege of key ports.
The number of Ukrainian refugees has now topped 1 million as the death toll in the country continues to mount. Earlier this week, a Russian businessman based in California offered a $1 million bounty for anyone who arrested Putin as a war criminal.
Twitter did not immediately respond when asked if Graham’s tweets violated any company policies for attempting to incite violence. The comments received bipartisan pushback from across American politics, ranging from the most progressive and conservative members of the House caucus and many figures in between.
“This guy was the chief apologist and enabler for an autocrat who called Putin a genius on the eve of invasion and sided with Putin over U.S. intelligence over his assault on American democracy,” said Ben Rhodes, one of former President Barack Obama’s top foreign policy staffers, referring to Graham’s defense of former President Donald Trump.
“Seriously, wtf?,” asked Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. “I really wish our members of Congress would cool it and regulate their remarks as the administration works to avoid WWlll. As the world pays attention to how the U.S. and its leaders are responding, Lindsey’s remarks, and remarks made by some House members, aren’t helpful.”
“This is an exceptionally bad idea,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves. But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state.”
Graham’s comments even received condemnation from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who has been under fire for her recent appearance at a white nationalist conference.
“While we are all praying for peace & for the people of Ukraine, this is irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged,” Greene posted. “We need leaders with calm minds & steady wisdom. Not blood thirsty warmongering politicians trying to tweet tough by demanding assassinations. Americans don’t want war.”
Graham’s comments were also noted by top Russian officials, with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, calling it “unacceptable and outrageous.”
“It becomes scary for the fate of the United States, which has such irresponsible and unprofessional politicians at the helm,” Antonov wrote on Facebook. “We demand official explanations and decisive condemnation of this American’s criminal statements.”