Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), a lifelong bachelor, is once again dealing with progressive insinuations that he is a closeted gay man, part of a pattern of attacks going back several years.
MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle suggested Tuesday that Graham was being blackmailed by President Donald Trump over "something pretty extreme" to gain his support, as he was once a staunch critic of Trump during the 2016 primaries:
Graham has become one of the President Donald Trump’s staunchest allies in the Senate, although he has criticized him for some key decisions, such as the military pullout from Syria. Ruhle seemed to imply there’s more to their relationship than politics, however, during a discussion about Graham with former Rep. David Jolly and professor Eddie Glaude.
"Or it could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham," Ruhle said. "We’re gonna have to leave it there."
This followed a recent tweet by Jon Cooper, the chairman of the Democratic Coalition Super PAC, saying Graham was being blackmailed over "some pretty serious sexual kink," while also calling his orientation "an open secret" without saying what it was.
A Republican just told me that he doubts @LindseyGrahamSC is kowtowing to Trump (and indirectly Putin) because he’s being blackmailed over his sexual orientation (an open secret) or even financial corruption. Rather, he thinks it probably involves some pretty serious sexual kink.
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) January 13, 2019
Liberal comedian Chelsea Handler made a pair of jokes last year quipping Graham was in the closet, drawing sharp blowback both times.
"If you’re wondering why Republicans took a sick day today, it’s probably because it’s #NationalComingOutDay. Looking at you @LindseyGrahamSC," she wrote on Oct. 11.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) October 11, 2018
Hitting Graham last January for defending Trump's conduct, she wrote, "Holy, fuck fuck. I just [sic] the video of trumps bipartisan "meeting" yesterday. Hey, @LindseyGrahamSC what kind of dick sucking video do they have on you for you 2 be acting like this? Wouldn’t coming out be more honorable??" she asked.
Holy, fuck fuck. I just the video of trumps bipartisan "meeting" yesterday. Hey, @LindseyGrahamSC what kind of dick sucking video do they have on you for you 2 be acting like this? Wouldn’t coming out be more honorable?
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) January 11, 2018
Former "The View" host Rosie O'Donnell tweeted "fuck u u closeted idiot" in September in response to a tweet Graham sent last year attacking attorney Michael Avenatti, whose client made dubious claims of attending high school parties with Brett Kavanaugh where gang rape occurred and suggesting without evidence Kavanaugh spiked women's drinks.
— ROSIE (@Rosie) September 26, 2018
HBO host Bill Maher said around the same time that Graham needed his "dead boyfriend" John McCain to provide "stabilizing influence." At the time, McCain, one of Graham's closest allies and friends in the U.S. Senate, had died about a month earlier at age 81.
Rumors about Graham's orientation from the left and the right go back years, but he has long maintained he is straight, joking in 2010 that he was going to make a lot of gay men jump off a bridge in devastation over the news.
Graham is the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding a hearing Tuesday over the confirmation of attorney general nominee William Barr.