But, in his conversations with Trump, Graham said they discuss his public critiques of presidential decisions, as he also tries to steer Trump into a place of “how you fix it” rather than just “let’s burn it down.”
“It’s important for every president, but particularly him, to see that the critic actually can help,” Graham said.
.. Graham and Sanford both came to Congress after winning in 1994, part of the historic class that vaulted Republicans into the majority for the first time in 40 years. Graham was 39, Sanford was 34, and they were the vanguard of several dozen hard-charging freshmen.
“They came in — they’re gonna burn everything down,” Graham recalled of those early days and his lead role as unofficial spokesman for the rebels. “I was the loudest guy.”
.. In 1998, Graham served as an impeachment manager in the Senate trial of President Bill Clinton. Sanford actually lived up to his term-limit pledge, returning home to South Carolina and winning the governor’s race in 2002.
.. They’re so close that Graham is godfather to Sanford’s youngest son.
.. But last summer, Graham started to see Trump’s ideological flexibility and tried to shape his decisions from the inside. “Ideology doesn’t drive this party like it used to,” explained Graham
.. he remained the conservative iconoclast until the end, losing to someone whose election night speech began with a simple declaration: “This is the party of Donald J. Trump.”