Lindsey Graham Said Joe Biden May Be 'Best Person' to Lead the Country in Audio From Jan. 6 Interview   

Audio of Graham’s comments about Biden, Trump and the country’s prospects in the wake of the violence at the U.S. Capitol were recorded on the day of the attack and played Tuesday on CNN

Senator Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham. Photo: Lenin Nolly/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Sen. Lindsey Graham put a hopeful spin on the state of the country following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in 2021 and said former President Donald Trump went "too far" and created a "sense of revenge" among his supporters, according to audio played on CNN Tuesday.

Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, also praised then President-elect Joe Biden as the "best person" to lead the country in the wake of the violent riots.

"We will actually come out of this thing stronger. Moments like this reset. It'll take a while. People will calm down. People will [say], 'Don't want to be associated with that.' This is a group within a group," Graham, now 66, says in audio recorded on Jan. 6, 2021, after a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building.

"What this does, it'll be a rallying effect for a while," he continues, "where the country says, 'We're better than this.' "

New York Times reporters Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin, whose book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future documents the 2020 election and the first year of Biden's presidency, shared audio of Graham's interview on CNN and discussed its contents with Anderson Cooper.

"And Biden will be better, right?" Martin, who conducted the interview, asks Graham as the audio continues.

"Yeah, totally, he'll be maybe the best person to have, right?" the lawmakers says. "I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?"

Graham has been critical of Biden on various issues, including in his assessment of a speech the president gave on the first anniversary of the attack. "What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden," Graham tweeted in January.

Kevin Bishop, Graham's communications director, responded to PEOPLE's request for comment on the audio.

"Senator Graham has repeatedly said the Joe Biden we see as president is not the one we saw when he served in the Senate. Biden has pursued a far left agenda as President," he said, adding that Democratic members of Congress have noted the "radical difference." (Bishop cited comments by Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, who said Biden was elected "to be normal," not "to be F.D.R.")

In a separate piece of audio played by CNN Tuesday, Graham says of Trump, "He's misjudged the passion. He plays the TV game and he went too far here. That rally didn't help … He created a sense of revenge."

Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham
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Graham has been a steadfast ally of the former president — though they've had their disagreements, including about the 2020 election, which Trump continues to claim was fraudulent.

On Jan. 6, Graham spoke on the senate floor, calling Biden "the legitimate president of the United States" and saying of the election, "When it's over, it's over."

"Trump and I, we've had a hell of a journey," Graham also said shortly after the violence at the Capitol. "I hate it to end this way. Oh, my God, I hate it. From my point of view, he's been a consequential president. But today, the first thing you'll see, all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough."

Burns and Martin also revealed in their book that Graham allegedly threatened to support invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the former president from office amid the Capitol riots.

A day later, Graham said at a press conference he did not support invoking the 25th Amendment, The Hill reported.

After the House of Representatives impeached Trump for his role in the events surrounding Jan. 6, Graham voted against a conviction in the Senate.

"There is no doubt that January 6 was one of the saddest days in American history. It will be part of President Trump's term in office. This was an impeachment effort driven by passion and hatred against President Trump," he said in a statement, before adding, "The charge against former President Trump for inciting violence was contrary to the evidence."

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