Sen. Lindsey Graham Called For Putin's Assassination On Social Media – Should Elected Officials Be So Open?
Mar 4, 2022
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at the Senate Judiciary ... [+] Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. (Photo By Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) came under fire on Friday morning, following comments he posted on social media Thursday evening. In a tweet, Sen. Graham essentially called for the assassination of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. "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 posted from his official Twitter feed (@LindseyGrahamSC). By Friday morning it had received nearly 20,000 likes, was retweeted more than 4,600 times and quoted some 12,500 times. Graham was clearly referencing Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the Roman Republic senators who assassinated Roman Dictator Julius Caesar in March 44 BC, as well as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who had attempted to kill Adolf Hitler with a briefcase bomb in 1944. Stauffenberg was played by actor Tom Cruise in the 2008 film Valkyrie. Sen. Graham further attempted to clarify his position, tweeting, "The only people who can fix this are the Russian people. Easy to say, hard to do. 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." MORE FOR YOU
While there are no doubt many who share the sentiment, Graham came under fire from U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. "While we are all praying for peace & for the people of Ukraine, this is irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged. We need leaders with calm minds & steady wisdom. Not blood thirsty warmongering politicians trying to tweet tough by demanding assassinations. Americans don't want war," responded Republic Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) of Georgia, who has also made a number of controversial comments on social media. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas (@tedcruz) also fired back at his colleague, "This is an exceptionally bad idea. Use massive economic sanctions; BOYCOTT Russian oil & gas; and provide military aid so the Ukrainians can defend themselves. But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state." Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (@IlhanMN), who has been another lawmaker to court controversy on Twitter, was even more direct, "Seriously, wtf?" Omar then added, "I really wish our members of Congress would cool it and regulate their remarks as the administration works to avoid WWlll. As the world pays attention to how the US and it's [sic] leaders are responding, Lindsey's remarks and remarks made by some House members aren’t helpful." Russian Response
On Friday, Russia's Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Ivanovich offered a response on Facebook :
"I find the statement of American politics unacceptable and outrageous. The degree of Russophobia and hatred in the USA towards Russia is off the charts. It's unbelievable that a country's senator preaching his moral values as a 'guiding star' to all mankind could afford a call on terrorism as a way to achieve Washington’s goals on the international arena. It's getting scary for the fate of the United States, which has such irresponsible and unprofessional politicians at the helm. We demand official explanations and decisive condemnation of this American's criminal statements." Graham has acknowledged the criticism he has received, but is standing by his words. On Friday, a Graham's spokesperson told PEOPLE , "They are entitled to their opinion. Senator Graham stated his." In addition, the spokesperson noted that, in a Friday morning appearance on Fox News, the senator had expanded his comments, where Sen. Graham suggested Putin needs to be arrested and held accountable for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. "The best way for this to end is having Eliot Ness or Wyatt Earp in Russia — the Russian spring, so to speak ... where people rise up and take him down because if he continues to be their leader, then he's going to make you complicit with war crimes," the senator said on Fox News. Words Have Consquences
Again, Graham may have only said what many in the west may have thought, but the question is whether a sitting U.S. political should have said it. "Yes, a lot of people may be thinking it, but there is a reason why people in positions of power and responsibility have to be careful about what they say or post on social media," warned Chris Haynes, associate professor of political science and national security at the University of New Haven. "If a member of our government calls for the assassination of an elected official of another state it can be escalatory," added Haynes. "It could even do more harm to the Ukraine people, as Putin is already paranoid and clearly hates the west. This could escalate the situation and could be used by Putin to justify to his people but also to countries that are currently neutral." Such words could muddle the moral case against Russia, just as much of the world has denounced Putin's aggression. "Two wrongs don't make a right. So it was wrong for Graham, but where what he said could be used to justify another wrong on Putin's position," explained Haynes. "What is also worrisome is that this could put other officials at risk, not just from Russia but it could set a precedence that it is OK to call for the assassination of elected officials. It is really questionable why a lawmaker would make such a statement. Words have consequences." Follow me on Twitter .