Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), joined Brian Kilmeade to discuss the latest on the government shutdown, why the Democrats position on border security is unsustainable and how any piece of legislation passed in the Democrat controlled House will be dead on arrival in the Senate if there is no funding for border security. Senator Graham also took issue with incoming Senator Mitt Romney of Utah for his op-ed in the Washington Post calling into question President Trump’s character. Graham said he is glad Romney won his election but he needs to look at how his criticisms of President Trump work to the advantage of the people of Utah. Graham hopes Senator Romney will sit down with the President privately to share his concerns and try to work together on a common agenda. Graham believes if Senator Romney continues to be a critic of President Trump he will hurt himself and Utah.
Plus, Senator Graham on his meeting with President Trump and the three objectives they share when it comes to Syria.
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX HOST: A guy that made a career of making deals, Senator Lindsey Graham, brought a great deal to the president when he said, “Hey Mr. President, I’ll get you $25 billion to build the entire wall and in turn a pathway to citizenship for DACA.” That blew up and now we’re at the point where the president is struggling to get $5 billion. Now he’s down to $2.5.
Senator Graham, are you optimistic? Welcome to 2019 by the way. Are you optimistic at all that something could be done today?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, well one Happy New Year and I’m glad to see your radio voice is expanding. I enjoy your show.
Well, we’ll see. Border security is needed. There will never be a deal any time in the near future, ever really, without a wall as a component of the deal and the president is willing to do things beyond a wall like the Bridge Act and TPS reform. The question is do the democrats want a deal? If they want a deal there will be one. If they want to continue to play politics there will not be one.
KILMEADE: Well I mean for example when Senator Schumer says no money or Nancy Pelosi says no money for the wall period, it doesn’t sound like there’s too much flexibility there. Are you getting a different tone behind the scenes?
GRAHAM: A bit. The problem is that democrats have taken a position that’s unsustainable. Number one, most every American would like to see the border more secure not less. What kind of fence do we have on the border that a nine month pregnant woman can climb over it? You can slide an eight month baby under the wall. That’s the wall as it is today. You had a run at the wall last night. Clearly we need more border security and every democrat who’s saying not a penny for the wall has voted on three different occasions for well beyond $5 billion for fencing, for fence, barriers, walls, whatever you want to call it. I just don’t think their position is sustainable.
KILMEADE: See, what I see when it comes to – there’s certain issues that republicans and democrats will never agree on and I believe that this is an inauthentic democratic position. They don’t even believe what they’re standing for. This is really about the president not getting a victory or fulfilling a promise. So how do we break through that. If I can identify it, and let’s be honest, this is a Mack truck, that’s how obvious it is, how do we get past it?
GRAHAM: Well, I just think the president’s got to — I talked to him last night, he called last night and I mentioned to him the — what they had to do on the border with firing tear gas. The bottom line is, just start laying out to the public, previous positions of Democrats.
In 2013, the Gang of Eight bill, we had $42 billion for border security, $9 billion for a double-layered fence that — it’s a wall, whatever you want to call it. The bottom line is, they have a history of being for border security, wall/fences, before Trump.
And just make it clear to the American people, they’re dislike for this president has gone too far and the president just needs to stand firm.
KILMEADE: All right, on the other thing, let’s just see what’s going to happen. I imagine nothing’s going to happen in the Situation Room today as long as Nancy Pelosi is not officially Speaker yet. Do you expect the Democrats to show up at all today?
GRAHAM: I don’t know. Yes, I think they will, I think they’ll come, but they’re going to send us two pieces of legislation from the House. One will fund the six accounts outside of the Department of Homeland Security. There’ll be a continuing resolution keeping DHS going at last year’s levels with no wall money. That’s dead on arrival.
So, they’ll send over something from the House to the Senate that will not get 60 votes. I talked to Mitch McConnell yesterday, Mitch McConnell is not going to put any bill on the floor of the United States Senate that doesn’t have support from President Trump.
I’ve been talking to a couple Democrats about trying to construct a deal, $5 billion for wall/border security, the Bridge Act giving work permits to the DACA population. The TPS Reform Program, people that came from Vietnam, Cambodia, other places that had war and natural disasters for the wall. That’s the deal that makes sense and I’m hoping that after this meeting they’ll start talking to us.
But right now, no Democrat is talking to me or anybody else in a meaningful way about solving this problem.
KILMEADE: Unbelievable. By the way, this is also in wake of the California police officer killed, Ronil Singh by Gustavo Arriaga, who’s going to be arraigned today and this guy’s an illegal immigrant, a gang member, and just assassinated a cop. So, that’s an illegal …
GRAHAM: Well, and every Democrat’s voted in the Gang of Eight bill, to make sure that if you had two offenses, one felony or I think it was two or three misdemeanors that you got enhanced sentencing.
So, everything that they’re against today because of Trump, they were for before. We’ve got a proposal to change the asylum rules, that if you cross illegally you can’t apply for asylum. That makes sense. That deters people from coming here illegally.
Unaccompanied minors, we have 11,000, I think, in the last year from Central America. We’ve got a loophole in our law that we can’t send them back to their home countries, 98 percent of them stay in the United States. That’s the inducement to send kids to the United States by themselves, which is dangerous. We want to change those things also. And in the past, Democrats have been for this.
KILMEADE: Senator Lindsey Graham our guest, thanks Lindsey, we’ve got something else to talk about and that is, I was stunned, at 8:00 o’clock last night I get this e-mail, like we all did if you’re on the alerts with “The Washington Post,” from a editorial from Mitt Romney, and I thought, okay, here’s the former presidential candidate going to outline his goals as he becomes a senator from Utah. And instead it’s basically two-thirds of which are negative on Trump and how he’s disappointed him to this point.
What is — you don’t agree with the president on everything, but how does it work to Mitt Romney’s advantage to come out with this opening salvo and sound more like Chuck Schumer than, let’s say, Senator Thune?
GRAHAM: Well, how does it work to the advantage of the people of Utah? So we have elections for a reason. Mitt Romney is a friend of mine. He is very smart. He’s very talented and led a very accomplished life. He decided to go back into public service; I’m glad he did. Now drove him back into public service? Was it to be a foe of President Trump? I hope not because I don’t think the people of Utah voted for him to do that. Mitt is incredibly smart. I see the world very similar to him in terms of foreign policy. He understands the economy incredibly well. He could be a valuable ally to the president and he also can push back. I found that the president will accept criticism if he believes you want him to be successful.
He beat me like a drum. I accept my defeat and I want him to be successful and I will tell him what I think and I’m not going to empower bad decisions but I’ll try to help him be successful where I can. Now Mitt Romney, now Senator Romney has got to make the decision. The time you have in the Senate, how do you want to spend it? I think the president is open minded. I have spent more time with President Trump talking about policy than all other presidents combined.
He is the easiest guy in Washington to get a hold of. He really cares about what you think and what more can you ask if you’re a member of the United States Senate than have a chance to talk with the president and share your views. That will not happen if he believes you are out to get him. So I’m hoping that Mitt will sit down with the president privately, share his concerns with the president about whatever drives his thinking but also commit to the president that I want you to be successful and I’m here to help you. If he will do that he can be a very effective senator. If he’s going to be the critic from Utah, it’s going to hurt him and Utah.
KILMEADE: You mentioned he’s smart and he is. You mentioned he’s got so many great personal qualities and he does; great father, I mean he was a bishop at his church in his mid thirties. Any one of us who would put him down because they like the president is not being accurate but there’s some – but – and you mentioned he’s smart. So why would a smart person and an experienced politician do something so detrimental to their effectiveness unless they had a bigger idea in mind?
GRAHAM: I don’t know. All I can tell you is that I want – I was excited when Mitt chose to run and I’m glad he won. He can really help the Senate be a better body. Somebody this talented can help the country move forward. Now how do you use this talent?
Trump is not short of critics. What he’s short of is people who will sit down with him and tell him the truth as they see it and help him make good decisions. He is our president. I will support him in 2020. As to Syria, we had a good meeting. I still have differences but he cares about what I think. I know he will care about what Senator Romney thinks and I’m just hoping that sometime early this year Senator Romney and President Trump can sit down and meet and try to find a way to get on a common agenda.
KILMEADE: Well this is an idea. Listen to this. The GOP chairperson happens to be Mitt Romney’s niece who came out in favor of the president; POTUS is attacked and obstructed by mainstream media every day 24/7. An incoming republican freshman Senator to attack Trump as their first act feeds into a democrats (inaudible) and is disappointing and unproductive, so enough said. When you lose your niece, you lose a lot.
GRAHAM: Well, so this is not the way I had hoped things would have gotten started because I know Mitt Romney very well, very talented wonderful family, really smart. I don’t know what led to this and there are things that the president says that I don’t like. There are things that I don’t like, but he’s doing a lot that I do like. He is — the president is easily underestimated. He’s very smart, he’s very engaged and we’ll talk about Syria here in a minute and I’ll tell you about our — my takeaway from our meeting.
But Romney has it — the people who are applauding Romney today for standing up to Trump and going after Trump, will turn on Romney the moment he votes for something that they don’t like.
KILMEADE: Unbelievable. Yes.
GRAHAM: Well, he’s got to learn from Kavanaugh. It’s really not about Trump, it’s about us. It’s about conservatism. They want to destroy the conservative movement, not just Trump. Kavanaugh was the Bush guy, Brian, he wasn’t the Trump guy. Trump picked somebody from the Bush world who was highly qualified, that brought the Party together, instead of smooth sailing, rewarding the president to pick somebody highly qualified, they Democrats chose to try to destroy Kavanaugh.
What I want Senator Romney to know, it’s not just about Trump, it’s about us. And remember what they tried to do to you Mitt, when they got through with you, you were a bad guy. The truth is, you’re a good guy, but in their world you will always be a bad guy if you try to cross them on policy.
KILMEADE: And Senator, lastly, we’re up against it, but 30 seconds, what should the American public know about the president’s policy on Syria?
GRAHAM: He has got three objectives I share. If you do withdrawal, to make sure ISIS doesn’t come back, they’re not defeated yet. The Kurds do not get killed, because they’ve been good allies and nobody (inaudible), if we abandon them and don’t turn it over to Iran, we’re taking a look at making sure those three objectives are achieved. And if we don’t achieve those three objectives, it will be a major mistake.
KILMEADE: Senator Lindsey Graham, always in the eye of the storm, in the center of almost every major issue. Thanks so much Senator, have a great 2019, and hope you visit early and often.
GRAHAM: All right, happy New Year. Take care.