The Lindsey Graham blackmail caper gets even stranger

For the past month, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham – who has never been a fan of Donald Trump or Russia – has been inexplicably going to extremes to protect Trump with regard to his Russia scandal. Graham has been acting in cartoonish fashion, leading to a widespread discussion about whether Graham is being blackmailed. This week that saga took an even stranger turn.

Lindsey Graham happened to be in the meeting where Trump made his infamous and profane racist remark about why he didn’t want immigrants coming into the United States from black countries like Haiti and Africa. And so, after Graham had spent the past month trying to protect Trump from his Russia scandal, he was suddenly stuck in the middle of the “shithole” scandal. Graham has acted tentatively the past week, seemingly unsure of what position he wanted to take. But at the end of it all, Graham ultimately sided against Trump on the matter.

In other words, so much for the theory that Donald Trump might be personally blackmailing Lindsey Graham. That was never our theory to begin with, of course. Graham admitted during the election that his emails were hacked and stolen. Those emails never did surface, which means someone has been holding them for the purpose of trying to blackmail him. Considering that Graham suddenly started trying to get Trump off the hook in the Russia scandal in December, our best guess was that the Russians had his emails all along, and they had begun using them to blackmail him at that time.

If that’s the case, then it’s fairly clear that Russia is only blackmailing Lindsey Graham specifically with regard to the Trump-Russia scandal. Graham has seemed more rattled than ever this week when addressing the racism scandal. But it doesn’t appear that Russia – or whoever might be blackmailing him – has pushed him to side with Trump on the “shithole” thing. And that makes sense. While this new scandal is very bad for Trump, it does take the public’s focus off his Russia scandal. In any case, it’s time for Lindsey Graham – long a reasonable man – to come clean about whatever is really going on here. It’s obvious that something is wrong behind the scenes.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report