Sen. Lindsey Graham joined FNC's Martha MacCallum Tuesday night to discuss the president's remarkable Oval Office debate with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi:
MACCALLUM: What did the president say after this rambunctious meeting that we all witnessed in the Oval Office, how did he feel about it?
GRAHAM: Well the first thing he asked me, "how did I do?" I said, "I thought you did great. I thought you made a very compelling case, that you need more wall funding to secure the country." Secure borders are -- it’s not a manhood thing, it’s a national security thing.
And here’s what’s so hypocritical, in February of this year 44 Democrats including Schumer, voted for a bill that had $25 billion for a wall. In 2013 Schumer helped create a bill that I was part of that had $8 billion for a wall -- $42 billion for securing the border in other ways.
So they’re just -- they want Trump to lose more than they want the country to win. They voted for vast -- large amounts of money to secure the border before, they just don’t want to do it for Trump.
MACCALLUM: So there’s a lot of, you know, sides that are having trouble with this idea -- with this vote.
MACCALLUM: There’s a suggestion that $5 billion wall funding bill could pass the house in the coming days, and we’re going to see what happens with that.
Nancy Pelosi wants to be speaker, she needs 218 votes. She clearly feels like backing any solution in this is going to make that problematic for her, right?
GRAHAM: She’s got a political problem the country has some border security problem. Here’s what I would tell the president, if they voted for $25 billion in February of this year -- insist on $5 billion now.
The caravans have created more uncertainty on the border, not less. What signal are we sending to the world if we reduce funding for border security in light of increased threats? We’re inviting more caravans.
So the president is right, this liberal arrogance has to come to an end. Nancy Pelosi said, "I will never put DACA associated with the wall." Well we did that in February. So this idea that the president needs to back down, doesn’t make sense to me -- he needs to dig in and get the very democrats who voted for $25 billion to give him $5 billion because we need the money now more than ever.
MACCALLUM: Yeah, I mean, when you talk about compassion and there’s all of this concern for the people who are trying to get in to this country on the part of democrats -- and then the president offered $1.8 million DACA recipients (ph) which was bigger than the number that they initially wanted. And they turned that deal down.
GRAHAM: They wanted to lose. They want -- OK, so they put an 8 month old baby under the wall a couple of days ago. You’ll never convince me -- I’ve been doing this for a decade. I’ve done everything I can to find a bipartisan solution to this. You’ll never convince me that the president’s demand for $5 billion to secure our border, including a wall -- as unreasonable.
Again, in 2013 democrats had an $8 billion wall plan. In February 2018 they all voted for $25 billion for wall and border security. This is all about politics, the president needs to dig in and make them pay a price -- they’re overplaying their hand. If I were the president I would put DACA on the table and see if they say no to that, wall plus DACA would be a good deal for this country.
MACCALLUM: So show me how you see this playing out as we head to Christmas and New Years, there’s discussions about all of you folks staying on the Hill through the holidays. And the president said, you know what, I feel so strongly about this issue -- that I’m willing to shut the government down. We’re only talking about 25 percent of it -- most of the funding is already passed. Do you think that’s going to happen?
GRAHAM: I think the president and people like me need to make a case to the American people that they’re denying this president money that makes sense. The difference between $1.6 billion and $5 billion is what we’re talking about.
Again, in February, 44 democrats voted for $25 billion. It’s not the money, it’s the desire to have Trump fail. And he needs to deal with it now, it’s only going to get worse next year -- he’s in a good spot, dig in, make the case that this money is necessary and challenge the democrats to work with you on DACA, plus the wall. And if they say no to that, that means they really do hate Trump more than they care about the country and that will blow up in their face.
MACCALLUM: What about the politics on the president’s side, here’s the latest Marist Poll, 57 percent say that they would like to see a compromise from the president to prevent gridlock, also known as a shutdown -- 36 percent say don’t compromise to prevent it, 8 percent are not sure.
But when you look at the numbers of republicans that were polled, they want him to do exactly what you said and that’s dig in on the wall. So how does this play politically for the president and his own party, ultimately?
GRAHAM: He’s asking for $5 billion, his border plan -- we had $25 billion on the table that democrats voted for in February. He’s not asking for all the money, he’s asking for a fourth of the money to deal with the damage done by the caravan, and to secure our border, and to stop future caravans from coming. A compromise to me is taking less than was on the table before, (inaudible)…
MACCALLUM: That’s already a compromise?
MACCALLUM: Look in to your crystal ball -- look towards Christmas, New Years -- are you guys all still up there working? Does this get resolved, or does the president throw up his hands and say, "you know what, I’m going to turn to a military option again," because he said as much in the Oval Office today?
GRAHAM: Well I’d hate to take money out of our military budget because we need it for other things. Here’s what I think, the president’s on the right side of this issue. He’s got to deal with this obstruction now -- this hypocrisy now, this liberal arrogance now.
MACCALLUM: So you recommend a shutdown if necessary?
GRAHAM: I recommend sticking to securing the border that is broken, and the difference between $1.6 and $5 billion is what we’re talking about. It’s a reasonable request, we need more money for the border, and if you don’t see more threats to our border in this year versus last, then you’re just not watching the same movie I’m watching.
The president needs to make the case, he’s being reasonable and they hate him so much they want him to lose and the country to lose. So I mean, at the end of the day they’d rather him lose than the country win. Stick with it Mr. President, you’re on the right side of this issue. You will win this case for the American people.