MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle implied without evidence Tuesday that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) has something to hide and the president is blackmailing him over it.
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.
"Before Don got elected, Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a racist, xenophobic bigot. Those are Lindsey Graham's words," Jolly said. "I doubt Lindsey Graham could tell you Donald Trump has had a change of heart in the last 24 months, I bet the change of heart has been with Lindsey Graham, not the president."
"Or it could be that Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham," Ruhle replied. "We’re gonna have to leave it there."
The smirk Ruhle produced when she spoke suggests she was referring to rumors about Graham’s sexuality, which some Democrats have been trumpeting anew recently. Jon Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Coalition super PAC, explicitly accused Graham on Saturday of letting himself be blackmailed for "some pretty serious kink."
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
Cooper went on to argue there’s a public interest in outing Grahams' sexual secrets because national security is at stake, on account of "the Russians" who could be blackmailing him.
By the way, as an openly gay man myself, I couldn’t care less about Lindsey Graham's sex life (gay, straight or otherwise). However, Graham is the Senate Judiciary Chair and there’s a strong likelihood that he's being blackmailed by the Russians. If so, that needs to be revealed.
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) January 14, 2019
This is, coincidentally, the same logic used to justify barring LGBT people from government intelligence positions in the past. Supposedly because of how open they could be to Soviet blackmail, LGBT people hoping to work for the government often had to strenuously guard their secret during the Cold War.
Democrats, who blasted Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his "Cold War foreign policy" toward Russia back in 2012, have made conspiracy theories about Russia a key part of their opposition to Trump. Cooper’s Democratic Coalition bills itself as the group that "help[s] run #TheResistance."
"We investigate Trump/GOP, campaign for Democrats & fight foreign influence & fake news [and] Helped uncover #TrumpRussia scandal," the group’s Twitter bio reads.