Lindsey Graham latest Republican to 'bend the knee' to Trump in Mar-a-Lago visit

<p>Republican senator Lindsey Graham</p> (REUTERS)

Republican senator Lindsey Graham

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Senator Lindsey Graham will become the latest Republican lawmaker to pay a visit to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, according to reports, as the party remains split on whether to reach out to the ex-president.

A source told CNN that Mr Graham will travel to Mar-a-Lago at the weekend to meet with Mr Trump, amid concerns that a power struggle with Mitch McConnell will damage the Republican party’s midterm election chances.

The South Carolina senator and staunch Trump ally will reportedly visit with an aim to repair a rift between Mr Trump and the Republican leader in the Senate, which has emerged in recent weeks.

Mr McConnell on Wednesday allegedly vowed to avoid “bend[ing] the knee” by paying a visit to Mar-a-Lago, as the Republican House leader, Kevin McCarthy, and House minority whip Steve Scalise have recently done, reported CNN.

And Mr Trump, responding to Mr McConnell’s criticism of his role during the 6 January Capitol riot, warned on Tuesday that any Republicans who stood with the party’s Senate leader “will not win again”.

Several Republican have already visited Mar-a-Lago in recent weeks, in an apparent attempt at securing the ex-president's support:

Kevin McCarthy

The House Republican leader was widely criticised for visiting Mar-a-Lago less than a month after the US Capitol was stormed by Mr Trump’s supporters, and some two weeks after a second impeachment against Mr Trump was passed by the House.

The Republican said in a statement after the meeting that “president Trump committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.”

Mr Trump, also issuing a written statement, said the meeting with Mr McCarthy was "a very good and cordial one” and discussed “taking back the House in 2022.”

The statement added that “President Trump's popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time.”

Democrat congresswoman Katherine Clark called the meeting “a photo op with the treasonous instigator,” as did others criticise Mr McCarthy — a longtime Trump ally — for seeking the ex-president’s support.

Steve Scalise

House minority whip Steve Scalise has never — even briefly — criticised Mr Trump for the Capitol riot, and has increasingly criticised US president Joe Biden for delaying the reopening of schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Scalise travelled to Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday, according to Politico, with the visit weeks after House minority leader Mr McKarthy made the same trip.

It means both Republican leaders in the House have now met with the ex-president in person in South Florida, with Mr Scalise tipped as a possible future leader, and apparently keen on securing Mr Trump’s support.

A spokeswoman for the Republican, Lauren Fine, released a statement saying “Scalise is in Florida this week on political travel and had meetings at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday and touched base with president Trump while he was there.”

Nikki Haley

The country’s former ambassador to the United Nations and a 2024 presidential hopeful was reportedly turned down by Mr Trump, after a meeting at Mar-a-Lago was requested, according to reports in recent days.

The rebuttal comes after Ms Haley — after downplaying the ex-president’s baseless election conspiracies — criticised Mr Trump for his role during the Capitol riot.

She told Politico: “I think he’s going to find himself further and further isolated. I think his business is suffering at this point. I think he’s lost any sort of political viability he was going to have.”

But after the failed request for a meeting wrote Ms Haley an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal criticising the media for stoking a "nonstop Republican civil war.”

She added that "it’s a calculated strategy to pit conservatives against one another", in an apparent attempt at winning Mr Trump’s approval. She has yet to be invited to Mar-a-Lago.

Marjorie Taylor Greene

The Georgia congresswoman recently said she received an invitation to Mar-a-Lago, telling One America News on 1 February that she was “excited to go visit him [Mr Trump] soon and continue to give him a call and talk to him frequently.”

Despiste that, there was no apparent follow-up to the claim, with Ms Greene becoming a centre of controversy after the House stripped her of her committee assignments, following revelations about her past behaviour online.

She did receive a call from Mr Trump, which the congresswoman confirmed on Twitter, and thanked the ex-president for his support during the recent controversy.

Ms Greene has been a vocal supporter of Mr Trump.

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