WATCH: Lindsey Graham 2.0 Shows up to Clean Stephanopoulos' Clock on Double Standards of Clinton Emails

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." Credit: ABC News

In a Sunday interview on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) unleashed a tirade about the differential treatment of Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. criminal justice system. Stephanopoulos asked Sen. Graham if he believes former President Donald Trump when he professes his innocence amid an indictment containing charges related to documents seized from Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.


Stephanopoulos poses the question:

Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he did nothing wrong. Do you believe that?

Graham responds by pointing to Hillary Clinton’s infamous server and deleted emails. Graham said:

Well, here’s what I believe. We live in an America where, if you’re the Democratic candidate for president, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, you can set up a private server in your basement to conduct government business. And when an investigation…

Stephanopoulos interrupts Graham:


Graham continues, rebuffing the interruption at mention of Clinton’s scandal, saying:

 … is had about your activity — no, let me finish.

Stephanopoulos responds:

But you didn’t answer the question.

Graham unleashes on Stephanopoulos, insinuating that GOP ideas are not permissible on the show, saying:

This panel you had was ridiculous — well, yeah, I’m trying to answer the question from a Republican point of view. That may not be acceptable on this show.


Graham gets to the crux of the issue of disparate treatment regarding President Joe Biden, former Vice President Mike Pence, and Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, saying:

Yes, I don’t like what President Trump did in certain aspects. I don’t like that Joe Biden had classified information on the garage. I don’t like that Mike Pence carelessly took classified information. I don’t like any of that. But what I don’t like is a system in America where the secretary of state, who’s a Democratic candidate for president, has people take a hammer to social media devices and break them apart, apply BleachBit to a hard drive to erase e-mails, allow classified information to get on a felon’s computer — Anthony Weiner. You haven’t even mentioned that.

Most Republicans believe we live in a country where Hillary Clinton did very similar things and nothing happened to her.


Graham continues, saying that Trump is overcharged, insisting that he did not commit acts of espionage:

President Trump will have his day in court. But espionage charges are absolutely ridiculous. Whether you like Trump or not, he did not commit espionage. He did not disseminate, leak, or provide information to a foreign power or to a news organization to damage this country. He is not a spy. He’s overcharged.

Did he do things wrong? Yes, he may have. He will be tried about that. But Hillary Clinton wasn’t.

Graham then makes an old comment about Stephanopoulos’ former boss, speaking of his years in the Clinton White House, saying:

Your old boss committed perjury in a civil lawsuit, lost his law license, obstructed justice in a dozen ways, and he didn’t get prosecuted.

Stephanopoulos downplays the Senator’s comments, asserting that the former President, Bill Clinton, had been held accountable by impeachment, saying:

 Yeah, and he was impeached. Well…

Graham shoots back:

I can’t stress to you enough… He was impeached, but he wasn’t prosecuted.

This author interrupts our regularly scheduled programming to elaborate on the Clinton White House and Stephanopoulos connection. Stephanopoulos was swiftly hired by ABC News after leaving the Clinton White House, and despite initially being called an analyst who would not report on politics, he soon became ABC’s “chief Washington correspondent.” He resumed hosting “This Week in 2012, after first hosting it from 2002 to 2010.


In a scathing 2015 article columnist John Fund highlights Stephanopoulos’ decades-long support for the Clintons and questions his integrity as a journalist. Fund argued that if Stephanopoulos had merely donated to the Clinton Foundation, his conflicts of interest would have been less controversial, as he would have been in good company with such acts from the media.

In a revealing interview in 1998, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Stephanopoulos appeared to serve as a conduit for the Clinton White House’s strategy to discredit and intimidate adversaries. Fund includes an exchange between Stephanopoulos and Sam Donaldson, where Stephanopoulos discusses a strategy akin to the “Ellen Rometsch strategy,” suggesting that the Clintons were willing to drag down anyone who investigated too deeply.

In this photo provided by ABC News, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates appear in Washington Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009 for a taping of an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week, in Washington, that will air on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/ABC News, Fred Watkins)Fred Watkins

Fund also pointed out Stephanopoulos’ handling of an interview with Peter Schweizer, the author of “Clinton Cash,” where Stephanopoulos acted as like prosecuting attorney while conveniently omitting key questions about Hillary Clinton’s brother, Hugh Rodham, and his questionable involvement with the foundation. Fund suggested that Stephanopoulos’ biased interview is a classic example of “hidden hand journalism” that undermines the audience’s trust in the integrity of the interviewer.

Carole Simpson, a former colleague of Stephanopoulos at ABC News, added fuel to the fire by criticizing his coziness with the Clintons. Simpson asserts that Stephanopoulos, despite attempting to distance himself from his political background, cannot escape the perception that he is not a true journalist. Simpson lamented the erosion of public trust in the media due to the actions of high-profile figures like Stephanopoulos, and claimed that ABC News is secretly furious about the situation despite publicly dismissing it as an honest mistake. Simpson said:


There is a coziness that George cannot escape. While he did try to separate himself from his political background to become a journalist, he really isn’t a journalist. . . . And I am sorry that again the public trust in the media is being challenged and frayed because of the actions of some of the top people in the business.

Stephanopoulos, predictably, cut the Clinton conversation short, without anyone so much as murmuring the name of former President Bill Clinton. The host moved on and said that based on allegations, the indictment said that Trump disseminated classified intelligence, saying:

You’ve made your point. But you also said something that I believe is not true, based on what’s in the indictment. You said that he did not disseminate any of this information. In fact, there’s an audiotape in the indictment where he’s talking about the secret information, saying he knows it’s secret, knows it’s not declassified.

Graham elaborated on the point about espionage:

OK, let’s talk about that. I don’t know what happened; I haven’t heard the audio. But look at who’s been charged under the Espionage Act, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, people who turned over classified information to news organizations to hurt the country or provide it to a foreign power. That did not happen here.

Donald Trump — you may hate his guts, but he is not a spy; he did not commit espionage.

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Graham turned back to former Secretary of State Clinton’s acts, saying:

What he did is very similar, in my view, to what Hillary Clinton did. People in the Clinton case took a hammer to a BlackBerry and destroyed it. They wiped clean, with BleachBit, e-mails. They said they were all personal, but some of them actually were classified. And it wound up on Anthony Weiner’s computer, and not a damn thing happen to her.


Stephanopoulos to the rescue! The host insisted that in Clinton’s case, they found no… something:

 Senator, first of all, she was fully investigated and they found no — the investigation found no…


Yeah, right.


 … intentional holding back. Well, fine, Donald Trump was president for four years. He had his Justice Department in place for four years.


Give me a break.

Stephanopoulos then moved on from Clinton and directed the discussion back to Trump, saying:

 But, setting that aside, you keep….

Graham cuts in, saying:

He didn’t do it.

After another question from the host about the audiotape of Trump, Graham brought up former President Clinton’s sock drawer tapes, saying:

It’s — I’m not saying it’s OK. I’m not saying it’s OK to take a hammer to a BlackBerry. I don’t think — I think none of this is okay. When I — when Chris Coons and my good friend will be on a minute, when we view classified information, we have to sign in, go into a room and turn it back over. You’ve got vice presidents, secretary of states and presidents handling this stuff. You had Bill Clinton with tapes in his sock drawer.

In a later exchange, Graham mentioned Hunter Biden’s laptop, saying:

There will be a trial about this [Trump indictment], because I cannot stress to you enough that we live in a world today where most Republicans believe that Hunter Biden’s laptop was real and people knew it was real but they told the public something else to help Joe Biden. We live in a world where it takes four years to investigate Hunter Biden, and you can go after Donald Trump in about 18 months.

I know you don’t get what I’m saying, but people on my side believe it, and I think Donald Trump is stronger today politically than he was before. I think the espionage charges are ridiculous. I think what happened to Hillary Clinton where she got away with is very similar to what happened to President Trump. And we’ll have an election and we’ll have a trial.

But I promise you this, most Americans believe — most Republicans believe that the law is used as a weapon against Donald Trump.


Stephanopoulos, near the end of the exchange, listed Sen. Graham’s points as “attacks,” saying:

 And, sir, I’ve heard that. I’ve heard your attack on President Biden and his Justice Department.

I’ve heard your attack on Hillary Clinton. I’ve heard your attack on Bill Clinton. What I’ve not heard from you is the defense of Donald Trump’s behavior and why you think that’s the kind of behavior you want to see in a president of the United States.

Graham responded:

I’m not justifying his behavior. If it were up to me, nobody would take classified information in their garage or Mar-a-Lago.

Stephanolonous asked why Graham is endorsing Trump’s candidacy for president. Graham replies:

Yeah, I think what’s happening here is trying to delegitimize him, is what I’m saying. The game has changed for future presidents. Bill Clinton’s under the ’23 — 2023 standard would be persecuted for perjury. All I can say is we changed the game. You impeached him after he was out of office. Now, you bring in charges in Manhattan that are completely ridiculous. You’re accusing the guy of being a spy through espionage.

It’s not going to change my support for Donald Trump. He’s innocent until proven guilty. But what I’m trying to convey to you and I’m sorry I’m not doing a better job, that most Republicans believe that the law now is a political tool, that Hunter Biden’s laptop story was — that the people in charge that had their thumb on the scale, and that the reason it was not known to be true in October of 2024 before the election is the intelligence community wanted you to believe it was Russian disinformation when it wasn’t.

Graham finished, saying, “This double standard is real in the minds of most Republicans.”


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