Lindsey Graham Threatened to Support the 25th Amendment to Oust Trump During Capitol Riots, Book Claims

In the days following the attack, several news reports surfaced about members of Donald Trump's own Cabinet who were considering invoking the 25th Amendment

Lindsey Graham and Donald Trump
Lindsey Graham (left), Donald Trump. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

A forthcoming book reports that South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — a longtime ally of Donald Trump — once allegedly threatened to support invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the former president from office amid the 2021 Capitol riots while urging Trump to more forcefully condemn the mob of his supporters who were descending on the building.

The new details come from This Will Not Pass, which will be published in May and which was written by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.

The political news website Axios reported Wednesday that in one passage from This Will Not Pass, the authors claim Graham, now 66, called White House lawyer Pat Cipollone as the riots were unfolding last year, calling on Trump to more forcefully denounce the rioters.

Otherwise, the book reports, Graham said, "We'll be asking you for the 25th Amendment" to remove Trump from office.

As the events were unfolding, Trump offered contradictory messages for the mob, at one point telling them in a videotaped message "we love you" and "you're very special."

Trump went on to falsely claim that "we had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side." He also called on the rioters to disperse but warned on social media that "these are the things and events that happen."

Axios further reported Wednesday that, in an in-person interview with the authors, Graham suggested the rioting — which were fueled by Trump's continued false statements surrounding his 2020 election loss to President-elect Joe Biden — would lead to a "rallying effect" for those who didn't wish to be associated with the then-president.

"People will say, 'I don't want to be associated with that' ... There will be a rallying effect for a while, the country says: We're better than this," the senator said, according to the book.

A spokesperson for Graham did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment regarding the book.

In the days following the riots, several reports surfaced about members of Trump's own Cabinet who were considering invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president (along with a majority of the Cabinet) to temporarily transfer the president's powers unless he contests the issue, at which point Congress would vote on the matter within a set time frame.

Both CNN and ABC News reported that sources had briefed them on conversations about using the amendment to remove Trump's powers for the remaining two weeks of his presidency before Joe Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20.

Ultimately, of course, Trump remained in office to serve out the remainder of his term.

Though a frequent defender of Trump's, Graham made his frustrations with the former president known the day of the riots, delivering an impassioned speech on the Senate floor in which he noted their relationship but said "count me out."

"i think it's a uniquely bad idea to delay this election. Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way. I hate it being this way," he said following the deadly attack, which required the evacuation of lawmakers before the Capitol was cleared and deemed safe. "All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough."

Graham concluded his speech then by saying, "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will be the president and vice president of the United States on January the 20th" — a remark that flew in the face of Trump's persistent (and false) claims that he had actually won the election.

Congress certified the election for Biden that night, hours after the chaotic scenes that saw multiple people – including a Capitol Police Officer — killed.

One day later, Graham held a press conference in which he again lambasted the Trump supporters who breached the Capitol and questioned how the event could have happened the way it did.

"The first thing that stands out to me is how embarrassed and disgusted I am that the United States Capitol could be taken over by domestic terrorist while we're in session, transferring power from one president to the other," he said. "That a band of people who are terrorists not patriots literally occupied the floor of the house, drove the Senate, out of its chamber. And the question for the country is how could that happen 20 years after 9/11."

While Graham has softened toward Trump since (he met with the former president at his members-only Mar-a-Lago Club last February), his stance on the rioters hasn't changed.

Earlier this year, Graham criticized the former president's comments about potentially pardoning the Jan. 6 rioters if he manages to return to the White House in 2024.

"If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly," Trump said in his speech. "And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly."

During an appearance on Face the Nation, Graham called the remarks "inappropriate," adding that he didn't "want to send any signal that it was okay to defile the Capitol."

"There are other groups with causes that may want to go down to the violent path that these people get pardoned," he added.

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