Lindsey Graham Laughs Off Claim He's a Trump 'Freeloader' Who Liked to 'Stuff His Face with Free Food'

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Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham
Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham is laughing off an unflattering label given to him by a former Trump White House insider in her headline-grabbing tell-all.

In I'll Take Your Questions Now, a memoir about her time as Donald Trump's press secretary and Melania Trump's chief of staff and longtime spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham calls the South Carolina lawmaker "Senator Freeloader."

"Of all the various characters and hangers-on in Trump World, Lindsey was one of the weirder ones, and that's saying something," Graham writes in her book, which was released Tuesday and which has already been criticized as untrue by Trump and others around him.

Grisham writes that Graham, a frequent guest at Trump's properties, seemed to relish the perks that come with being a pal of the president.

RELATED: Melania Trump Was Nicknamed 'Rapunzel' by Secret Service for Rarely Leaving White House Residence, Book Claims

Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham
Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock

"He would show up at Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster to play free rounds of golf, stuff his face with free food, and hang out with Trump and his celebrity pals," she writes.

In an interview with Newsmax on Tuesday, Graham chuckled at her descriptions. "Apparently, she's implying that the only reason I want to be around President Trump is because of the food," the senator said, telling interviewer Rob Schmitt, "I'll let you determine if that's why I spend time with the president because I need my next meal."

Though Graham said his "appreciation for President Trump includes the food," he added that it goes "much beyond that."

Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham
Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Graham, 66, has repeatedly changed his tone on Trump, alternately denouncing and defending his actions.

He once one of Trump's harshest critics, even calling then-candidate Trump "a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot" in 2015. But after Trump's election in 2016, Graham became an avid supporter of the president, who praised the senator, endorsed him during his reelection campaign in South Carolina and often invited him for rounds of golf.

"He seemed almost schizophrenic. Some days he would be one of Trump's most vigorous defenders; other days he was a harsh critic," Grisham writes of Graham in her book. "People around the president would tell him that he couldn't trust Graham, but Trump seemed to like him for whatever reason and I often wondered if he sought Lindsey's approval."

RELATED: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Were Dubbed the 'Interns' by White House Critics, Melania's Aide Says

Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham
Donald Trump; Lindsey Graham

Ron Sachs - Pool/Getty Images

Grisham, who left the White House on Jan. 6 after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, recalled an encounter with Graham by the pool at Bedminster, Trump's private country club in New Jersey.

"Senator Freeloader was sitting at a table by the pool, a big grin on his face, lapping up the goodies he was getting like some potentate. He said to me, with a creepy little smile, 'Isn't this great? Man, this is the life,' " Grisham wrote. "I remember thinking, 'Yes it is, but it's not your life — it's the president's life.' There was something so gross and tacky about his behavior during that trip that the image never left me."

In an earlier statement to PEOPLE, Melania Trump's office said of Grisham's book: "The intent behind this book is obvious. It is an attempt to redeem herself after a poor performance as Press Secretary, failed personal relationships, and unprofessional behavior in the White House. Through mistruth and betrayal, she seeks to gain relevance and money at the expense of Mrs. Trump."