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Transcript: Senator Lindsey Graham on "Face the Nation," January 30, 2022

Graham "can't think of a better person" than Michelle Childs for Supreme Court
Graham says he "can't think of a better person" than Michelle Childs for Supreme Court 10:39

The following is a transcript of an interview with GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that aired Sunday, January 30, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham joins us from Clemson, South Carolina, this morning. Good morning to you, Senator.


MARGARET BRENNAN: As you know, coming up on this program, Congressman Jim Clyburn, he has said repeatedly in interviews that South Carolina Federal District Judge Michelle Childs, not only as someone he likes, but that both South Carolina Republican senators will support her. So he's talking about you. Did you tell him you're a yes vote on Childs?

SEN. GRAHAM: Here's what I'll tell him and the nation, I- I can't think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court than Michelle Childs. She has wide support in our state. She's considered to be a fair minded, highly gifted jurist. She's one of the most decent people I've ever met. It would be good for the court to have somebody who's not at Harvard or Yale. She's a graduate of the University of South Carolina, a public education background. She's been a workers comp judge. She's highly qualified. She's a good character. And we'll see how she does if she's nominated. But I cannot say anything bad about Michelle Childs. She is an awesome person.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That- that sounds like pretty close to yes. You're a yes vote?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, what I don't know if she's going to be nominated–


SEN. GRAHAM: if she's nominated, she will not be treated like Judge Kavanaugh, I promise you, by Republicans. Let's see how she does at the hearing. But I think I've made it pretty clear that I'm a big admirer of–


SEN. GRAHAM: Judge Charles. And I'd like to see the court have- a have a lot more balance, some common sense on it. Everybody doesn't have to be from Harvard, Yale–


SEN. GRAHAM: It's okay to go to a public university and get your law degree.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you have been glowing in your descriptions, but your colleague, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, said picking a female black Supreme Court justice is affirmative racial discrimination. He questioned her- any potential impartiality from any of the candidates named. Nikki Haley of South Carolina also tweeted the president should not have a race or gender litmus test. President Reagan promised to nominate a woman, Sandra Day O'Connor. So why is this different?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, it's not different to me. Put me in the camp of making sure the court and other institutions look like America. You know, we make a real effort as Republicans to recruit women and people of color to make the party look more like America. Affirmative action is picking somebody not as well qualified for past wrongs. Michelle qual- Childs is incredibly qualified. There's no affirmative action component if you pick her. She is highly qualified. And President Reagan said running for office that he wanted to put the first female on the court. Whether you like it or not, Joe Biden said, I'm going to pick an African-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court. I believe there are plenty of qualified African-American women, conservative and liberal, that could go onto the court. So I don't concede- I don't see Michelle Childs as an act of affirmative action. I do see putting a black woman on the court, making the court more like America. In the history of our country, we've only had five women serve and two African-American men, so let's make the court more like America. But qualifications have to be the- the- the biggest consideration. And as to Michelle Childs, I think she's qualified–


SEN. GRAHAM: by every measure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Senator, I want to move on to Ukraine. Senator Menendez, Democrat, on another program this morning, said they're nearing bipartisan agreement on a package of sanctions, some of which would put sanctions on Russia now, some later. I know you're part of the talks. I know you want sanctions now. So what exactly are you pushing for? What needs to be hit?

SEN. GRAHAM: More. More against Russia, more for Ukraine. There's bipartisan support to sanction Russia now. They're dismembering the Ukraine by the invasion- the threat of invasion. It's 2022, for God's sake. You can't get your way by threatening to invade a country. So, punish Putin now more, weapons to the Ukraine now so they can defend themselves, more economic aid to the Ukrainian economy so they can- they can deal with the threat of invasion and more troops to NATO. As Putin tries to dismantle NATO and divide NATO, I support President Biden's decision to send more troops in to reinforce NATO. He's trying to destroy a neighboring democracy. He hates democracy- Putin. And I will just say this to President Putin. If you invade the Ukraine, you will destroy the ability of future presidents to treat you and Russia as normal. You'll long for the good old days of the Cold War because every president in the future will pound you and every Congress in the future will pound you if you dismantle this democracy. So be careful what you wish for, my friend.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, strong words there. We know President Biden is already looking at sanctions after an invasion. He's looking at sovereign debt sales, hitting oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin, the banks that handle critical industries and- on top of export import restrictions. Is this enough or are you saying you're pushing President Biden further?

SEN. GRAHAM: The bipartisan working group will submit sanctions now. Look what Putin has done. He's dismantled–

MARGARET BRENNAN: On what specifically, though?

SEN. GRAHAM: he's hurting the- Oh, an array of pre-invasion sanctions, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is a cash cow for Putin, that'll probably be after the invasion, knocking them out of financial systems that they will need to conduct business normally, the Swift program. All of this is on the table, but the–

MARGARET BRENNAN: European allies don't support that.

SEN. GRAHAM: It is 20. Well, the Congress has a different view here. I want sanctions on Putin's behavior now. What is Putin doing? He's threatening- he's warning to get his way by threatening it to invade a country. This is 2022, for God's sake. That's not the way to resolve disputes. So, I think there'll be bipartisan support for sanctions now. There'd be a bipartisan support for more- more lethal aid now to the Ukraine, more economic assistance for the government now.


SEN. GRAHAM: And I think there's bipartisan support to reinforce NATO.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, well, in your version of a bill, what would trigger invasion? Right? Because there's an array of options Vladimir Putin's looking at. Does a cyberattack trigger sanctions?

SEN. GRAHAM: A cyber attack against the United States would be an act of war, and we shall respond in kind. I am tired of Putin, China and North Korea attacking us. If they blew up a pipeline that would be an act of war. Well, if you shut it down through a cyber attack, it's the same outcome.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But a cyberattack in Ukraine?

SEN. GRAHAM: My Russian friends- Yeah. Well, any- any attack on the sovereignty of a nation, any attack on their critical infrastructure, any attack on their ability to do business. But he needs to be sanctioned now. What is he done? He's using the threat of force of arms to get his way. That should be outlawed in 2022. Listen, I want to support President Biden to the- to the full extent possible, but the Congress is ready to sanction Putin now. But there will be more sanctions come if he invades. And I will end with this point: If you invade the Ukraine, if Russia invades the Ukraine, no future president, no future Congress–


SEN. GRAHAM: will give you a pass. It will change the relationship forever.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, more than 730 people have been charged by the Justice Department for their role in the attack on the Capitol on January 6th to stop–


MARGARET BRENNAN: the certification of our election. Last night, President Trump, at a rally, said this.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6th fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Pardons? Do you agree?

SEN. GRAHAM: No, I don't want to send any signal that it was OK 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.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But isn't that a dangerous thing to say?

SEN. GRAHAM: Kamala Harris- Yeah. Well, I think it's inappropriate. I- I don't want to reinforce that defiling the Capitol was OK. I don't want to do anything that would make this more likely in the future. And just let me finish my thought here. When Kamala Harris and her associates and the people that work for her, her staffers, raised money to bail out the rioters who hit cops in the head and burned down stores. I didn't like that either. So I don't want to do anything from raising bail to pardoning people who take the law into their own hands because it will make more violence more likely. I want to deter people who did what–


SEN. GRAHAM: on January the 6th. And those who did it, I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That was clear, Senator, before I let you go, I want to ask you. The District Attorney in Georgia has- in Fulton County has gotten clearance to set up a grand jury to investigate President Trump. She says she wants to talk to you about that phone call you made to Georgia's secretary of state ten days after the election, are you going to cooperate?

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah give me a call. Yeah, I talked- I asked about how the system worked when it came to mail in voting- balloting. The January 6 committee was not the 911 committee. After 911, we came together, we formed a bipartisan committee after the next election--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I was talking about Georgia though.

SEN. GRAHAM: So what's going on Georgia and the January 6th- Yeah. I know, but there's an effort here to use the law, I think inappropriately. So I don't know what they're going to do in Fulton County. I don't know what the Jan. 6 committee is going to do. I expect those who defile the Capitol to be prosecuted. But there's a political movement using the law to try to knock Trump out of running. And I, particularly, don't like it or appreciate it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, Senator, thank you for joining us today. We'll be right back with Congressman James Clyburn.

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