Speed Reads

hard to talk with your foot in your mouth

Sen. Lindsey Graham hit with bipartisan criticism after calling for Putin's assassination

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has been the target of strong criticism on both sides of the aisle after his Thursday call for a Russian "Brutus" to "take this guy out" — "this guy" being Russian President Vladimir Putin — went viral.

"You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service," Graham wrote on Twitter on Thursday, amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Earlier that night, Graham said almost exactly the same thing during an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News program.

"This is an exceptionally bad idea," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) later said of Graham's suggestion. "We should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state."

"Seriously, wtf?" added Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

Even firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wants Graham to cool it.

The Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, also joined in denouncing Graham's apparent call to action, writing Friday that, "It is impossible to believe that a senator of a country that promotes its moral values as a 'guiding star' for all mankind could afford to call for terrorism as a way to achieve Washington's goals in the international arena."

Even with the backlash, however, don't expect Graham to drop the rhetoric just yet. A person familiar with Graham's thinking told The Wall Street Journal that the senator isn't likely "to tone down his language in the face of criticism, either from his colleagues in Congress or from Russia," the Journal writes.

That said, journalist Aaron Rupar shared a clip from Graham on Fox News Friday morning, in which the senator calls for Putin's arrest rather than his assassination, as Rupar points out.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki firmly distanced the Biden administration from Graham's rhetoric.