Donald Trump Jr. and other prominent MAGA stars are driving a new social media campaign to pressure Sen. Lindsey Graham to more forcefully defend President Donald Trump from the impeachment inquiry.
Graham, the chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, is one of the president’s top allies in the Senate and is set to play a key role in the president’s impeachment defense. But the president’s die-hard supporters and oldest son are now taunting him to immediately do more, including issuing subpoenas on Trump’s behalf.
The campaign has used the #WheresLindsey hashtag to call on Graham to start bringing people in to be interviewed by his Senate committee and to air grievances with what they see as Graham’s inaction to protect the president so far. The hashtag, boosted by Trump Jr. and his allies, was trending in the United States on Tuesday, even after Graham went so far as to explicitly defend Trump’s morning comments about the inquiry being a “lynching.” The inquiry, Graham told reporters, is “a lynching in every sense.”
That wasn't enough to save Graham from intense and personal attacks all day online.
Republican House members last week framed the impeachment process as not being “transparent” after members were blocked from reading the closed-door testimony from Kurt Volker, the former US special representative for Ukraine negotiations, because they aren’t members of the committees with jurisdiction over the testimony. The Trump-backing Twitter accounts have spread false conspiracy theories about the House Democrats leading the process, in particular Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
Graham, responding to those concerns on Oct. 9, said if House Democrats didn’t release a transcript of Volker’s full testimony, “it would be an abuse of power.”
“If this continues, I will call Volker before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify publicly to ensure the full story is told,” he added.
But the MAGA accounts and Trump’s son want Graham to stop talking and “just fucking do something already.”
“Remove the first three words from this tweet and try again,” one person tweeted at Graham eight days later in a reply that received over 1,000 likes. An hour later, Trump Jr. quote-tweeted Graham to let him know that the problem was “continuing.”
“Dear @LindseyGrahamSC: The chair of the Intel Committee is orchestrating a coup against the President of the United States, complete w rogue CIA spies, secret testimony and his usual leaks to the corrupt press. WHY IS TRUMP FIGHTING ALONE?” a popular pro-Trump Twitter account said later that afternoon. The tweet was retweeted over 5,000 times and liked over 11,000 times.
“Lindsey Graham is more worried about the invasion of Syria than the coup taking place in Washington,” the account added in a follow-up tweet. In tweets from a year ago, the account had praised Graham’s appearance during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings and his defense of the president and begged Trump to bring him to rallies.
Trump Jr. escalated the pressure campaign against the senator by promoting his own appearance on Fox News’ Hannity in early October.
“I think we need our guys in the Senate to start pushing back start subpoenaing this. Do you doubt for one second that this team has met with the whistleblower, Schiff’s team, that they have dictated every aspect of this? Subpoena ‘em! Ask them!” Trump Jr. said in a clip, which was widely shared on Twitter and ultimately retweeted by Trump Jr. himself.
Popular conservative Twitter personalities associated with organizations like Turning Point USA latched onto the rhetoric Tuesday and have encouraged followers to tweet memes and makes posts under the hashtag #WheresLindsey.
“Remember based Lindsey Graham?” Benny Johnson, Turning Point USA’s chief creative officer, posted on Tuesday morning alongside a video of Graham’s statements during the Kavanaugh hearings. “I do. This Lindsey Graham stopped a bloodthirsty, farcical attack from the Left on our nation’s most honored institutions. Lindsey crushed these attacks. Do it again Lindsey.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Trump Jr. added to the call for Graham to start issuing subpoenas to witnesses like Volker. “I repeat... it’s continuing. #WheresLindsey,” he said, quote-tweeting Graham’s threat from early October.
Graham’s office did not immediately return a request for comment about the Twitter campaign or his relationship with Trump Jr.
Paul McLeod contributed reporting to this story.