Despite repeatedly pushing for former President Donald Trump to run for the White House again, newly released audio reveals that GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham called President Biden the “best person” to lead and unite the country following last year’s Capitol riot.
“We’ll actually come out of this stronger. Moments like this reset,” Graham (R-SC) said in the audio first aired on CNN. “People will calm down. People will say, ‘I don’t want to be associated with that.’”
“This is a group within a group,” he continued. “What this does, there will be a rallying effect for a while [where] the country says, ‘We’re better than this.’”
In the audio — obtained by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns — Graham is asked if the newly elected Biden could help with the rallying effect.
“Totally, he’ll be maybe the best person to have, right?” Graham responds. “I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?”
Martin, who along with Burns co-authored the new book “This Will Not Pass,” told CNN Tuesday night the conversation with Graham took place in a secure room at the Capitol as the 45th president’s supporters rampaged through the building.
Later that day, Graham publicly distanced himself from Trump in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor.
“Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey,” he said at the time. “I hate it being this way. Oh my God, I hate it. But today, all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough. I tried to be helpful.”
However, in the months that followed the attack, Graham slowly shifted back toward full-throated support for Trump.
In May 2021, the senator insisted that the Republican Party cannot “move forward” without the former president.
“I would just say to my Republican colleagues, can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no,” he said during an interview on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
At the time, Graham blasted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for her criticism of the former president as she faced ouster from the position of House GOP Conference chair. Cheney was ultimately replaced by Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
“I’ve always liked Liz Chney, but she’s made a determination that the Republican Party can’t grow without President Trump. I’ve determined we can’t grow without him,” Graham said. “If you don’t get that, you’re making the biggest mistake in the history of the Republican Party.”
That same month, the South Carolinian pushed for a “Draft Trump” movement to kick-start a potential 2024 bid for the presidency.
“I miss Donald Trump,” Graham told Fox News’ “Hannity.”
“I hope he’s considering running. Let’s start a ‘Draft Trump’ movement. He’s the only guy I think can go to the American people and say, ‘Let me finish what I started. What I did worked.’”
Graham continued to urge Trump to run again just months later.
“I hope President Trump runs again,” the senator said during a leadership conference for Michigan’s Republican Party in September.
“People ask me, ‘What happened with you and Trump?’ I say we found common ground,” Graham added. “I’ve come to like him and he likes him.”
At the beginning of this year, the Republican again insisted that the GOP must keep a strong relationship with Trump, saying, “Elections are about the future. If you want to be a Republican leader in the House or the Senate, you have to have a working relationship with President Donald Trump.”
Graham also praised the former president as “the most consequential Republican since Ronald Reagan” and said the Republican nomination in 2024 is “his … if he wants it.”
One year after Graham said Biden was the “best person” to lead, the senator blasted the president and the Democratic Party for politicizing the anniversary of the Capitol riot by blaming Trump.
“It was an effort on his part to create a brazen political moment, to try to deflect from their failed presidency,” he said. “I was really disappointed in the tone of the president and the vice president — of the politicized Jan. 6. The American people reject what happened on Jan. 6, but come in November 2022, they are going to reject the Democratic Party,” Graham added.
In the lead-up to the publication of “This Will Not Pass,” Martin and Burns have released several other shocking audio recordings, including one that featured House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying he planned to urge Trump to resign in the aftermath of the riot.
When pressed for comment by The Post on the released audio, Graham’s office pointed to recent comments made by the senator criticizing Biden’s job as president.
“Senator Graham has said the Joe Biden we see as president is not the one we saw in the Senate,” communications director Kevin Bishop said. “He’s pursued a far-left agenda as president.
“Even Democratic members of Congress have noted the radical difference,” he continued, pointing to comments made by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in November, when she said the president was elected to be “normal,” not “to be FDR.”
Graham’s office did not answer The Post’s inquiry about whether the senator stood by or wished to retract his remarks from the Jan. 6 audio.