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Lindsey Graham says he set up 1st Trump interview with Woodward, and it wasn't sabotage

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took umbrage at Fox News host Tucker Carlson's suggestion that he sabotaged President Trump by setting up his initial interview with journalist Bob Woodward.

Graham confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that he helped put together that first meeting, but said "it's pretty absurd to believe that President Trump did something he didn't want to do because of me or anybody else. I have more confidence in the president than Tucker Carlson does."

Trump ended up speaking with Woodward on the record 18 times, and many of their conversations appear in Woodward's new book, Rage. Excerpts from the book were released on Wednesday, including a stunning revelation that Trump told Woodward in February and March he wanted to "play down" the "deadly" coronavirus, privately discussing the virus' severity while publicly saying everything was "very much under control" and it would disappear "like a miracle."

Pundits agreed that the interviews were damaging, so much so that on his Wednesday night show, Carlson came up with a way to spin the focus away from Trump by insinuating that Graham set up the Woodward meeting knowing Trump's loose lips would sink the MAGA ship. Graham is one of Trump's staunchest supporters now, but Carlson was quick to point out that in 2016, he was opposed to "virtually every major policy initiative that Donald Trump articulated when he first ran."

Graham is up for re-election, and his Democratic rival, Jaime Harrison, said on MSNBC Wednesday that he didn't care about the role Graham played in planning Trump's "bad interview," but Graham was "in the room when one of the interviews took place. Did Lindsey know the federal government was downplaying the virus?" Graham told AP he though Trump's coronavirus actions were "were very forward-leaning. And I think the fact he didn't go out and scream, 'We're all going to die' is more than okay."