Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) was sharply criticized by fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Thursday after saying that the “only way” to end the crisis in Ukraine is for Russians to assassinate President Vladimir Putin.
“The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out,” he said. “You would be doing your country — and the world — a great service.”
Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 4, 2022
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 added that if Russians do not want to live in darkness and be isolated from the rest of the world, then “you need to step up to the plate.”
The White House on Friday rejected Graham’s call for an assassination.
“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 at the daily briefing.
Members of Congress also criticized Graham’s tweets as reckless, including members of his own party.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said, “This is an exceptionally bad idea.” Sanctions and boycotts of Russian oil and gas are solutions, along with military aid for the Ukrainians, Cruz said.
“But we should not be calling for the assassination of heads of state,” he added.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called Graham’s remarks “dangerous” and “unhinged.”
While we are all praying for peace & for the people of Ukraine, this is irresponsible, dangerous & unhinged.— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (@RepMTG) March 4, 2022
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. https://t.co/l2hqiUbZGv
“We need leaders with calm minds & steady wisdom,” she wrote. “Not blood thirsty warmongering politicians trying to tweet tough by demanding assassinations.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said calls for Putin’s assassination from U.S. politicians “aren’t helpful.”
“I really wish our members of Congress would cool it and regulate their remarks as the administration works to avoid WWIII,” Omar tweeted. “As the world pays attention to how the US and [its] leaders are responding.”
Norman Eisen, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic during the Obama administration, said such comments would only raise tensions.
“Now Putin can say ‘one of the most senior U.S. Senators has called for my assassination,’ ” Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said. “Why would you want to help him?”
Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop said the senator “also expressed he was okay with a coup to remove Putin.”
“Basic point, Putin has to go,” Bishop said. “He also noted it will be — has to be — the Russian people who do it.”
Some online critics questioned whether the senator’s tweets violated Twitter’s rules against violence. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post late Thursday.
Graham, a retired Air Force prosecutor, has long been critical of Putin. Once an influential member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Graham in 2016 accused Russia of hacking his campaign email account, CNN reported. He said Russia was “trying to destabilize democracy all over the world. Not just here,” according to the outlet.
Graham also called for Russians to assassinate Putin during a Thursday appearance on “Hannity” on Fox News. Moreover, he introduced legislation this week calling for Putin to be investigated for war crimes.
On Wednesday, Sean Hannity suggested on his radio show that the United States carry out an assassination of Putin, saying, “You cut the head of the snake off, and you kill the snake.” Experts told The Post that such a move would not help solve the crisis, and it would be illegal outside an armed conflict with Russia.