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Lindsey Graham said there’d be “holy hell to pay” if Trump fired Sessions. But that was then.

Graham used to defend Sessions. Now he’s defending the president.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a staunch supporter for President Donald Trump, offered no pushback on the firing of Jeff Sessions as attorney general on November 7, 2018.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a staunch supporter for President Donald Trump, offered no pushback on the firing of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said those words while speaking to reporters in July 2017, when he was still somewhat critical of President Donald Trump and the mounting pressure on the attorney general to resign.

But that was before Graham turned into a staunch Trump ally, defending many of the president’s most controversial moves. So just one day after he predicted Sessions would step down, and mere minutes after Trump ousted Sessions, Graham offered a severely wanting reaction to the news.

“I look forward to working with President @realDonaldTrump to find a confirmable, worthy successor so that we can start a new chapter at the Department of Justice and deal with both the opportunities and challenges our nation faces,” Graham said in a statement that he also posted to Twitter.

“I will be part of a larger Republican majority in the United States Senate — working with the President and my Republican and Democratic colleagues — to make America safer and more prosperous,” he continued.

That’s a long, long way away from “holy hell to pay.”

Graham’s about-face is a problem. With Sessions gone, and a skeptic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia probe now the acting head of the Justice Department, Trump could stifle the investigation into whether or not his presidential campaign colluded with Moscow to win the 2016 election.

Graham, who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his fellow Republicans provide some of the few real checks on the president’s power. But based on Graham’s statement, it looks like Trump is free to do what he wants.

For that, the rest of America may face holy hell.