Graham faces backlash for suggesting someone should assassinate Putin

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle quickly slammed him for the comment.

March 04, 2022, 3:34 PM

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was swiftly rebuked by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for remarks he made suggesting that Russians with access to President Vladimir Putin should assassinate him.

"Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country - and the world - a great service," Graham tweeted Thursday evening. "Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness you need to step up to the plate.

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, 2021.
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 7, 2021.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted, "I really wish our members of Congress would cool it and regulate their remarks as the administration works to avoid WWIII. As the world pays attention to how the US and its leaders are responding, Lindsey's remarks and remarks made by some House members aren't helpful."

PHOTO: Sen. Ted Cruz attends a news conference with Senate Republicans about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the U.S. Capitol, March 2, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Ted Cruz attends a news conference with Senate Republicans about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the U.S. Capitol, March 2, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

But some of Graham's fellow Republicans were equally miffed by his comments. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called Graham's suggestion an "exceptionally bad idea".

"Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves," Cruz tweeted. "But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., known for her frequently controversial positions on Twitter, also rebuked Graham, calling his position "irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged."

"We need leaders with calm minds & steady wisdom. Not blood thirsty warmongering politicians trying to tweet tough by demanding assassinations," Greene tweeted. "Americans don't want war."

The administration has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia aimed at chocking their economy. Some lawmakers have called for the Biden White House to go even further, urging additional sanctions and a ban on Russian oil imports to the United States.

But Graham's call, which he repeated on Fox News last night, are far beyond what other lawmakers have sought.

Asked about Graham calling for Putin's assassination, the White House said that wasn't the U.S. government's position.

"That is not the position of the United States government and certainly not a statement you'd hear from- - come from the mouth of anybody working in this administration," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

Later, she added, "We are not advocating for killing the leader of a foreign country or regime change. That is not the policy of the United States."

The White House earlier this week stopped short of even calling for Putin's ouster.

During an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, co-anchor George Stephanopoulos pressed Vice President Kamala Harris on what the United States hopes is the end game for Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

"What is the best possible outcome here? Does the United States want the Russian people and Putin's fellow oligarchs to rise up and depose him?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Well, what we want is that he will leave Ukraine. What we want is that the Ukrainian people will be free and that they will be safe," Harris said, stopping short of calling for Putin to be removed from power.

Graham has been a vocal critic of Putin for years, and has in recent weeks called on the administration to impose harsher sanctions of the Russian leader, his oligarchs, and his exports.

On Thursday, Graham led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing a resolution encouraging the investigation of Russia for war crimes abuses in Ukraine.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events