Ex-Republican congressman blasts Lindsey Graham and others who ‘faceplant on the knee of Donald Trump’

Ex-Republican congressman blasts Lindsey Graham and others who ‘faceplant on the knee of Donald Trump’

Former Rep. David Jolly (Fla.), who served in the House as a Republican but later left the party, accused members of his former party of being apologists for former President Trump amid mounting scrutiny over his recent remarks on NATO.

“I think there’s a unique shamefulness to see Mike Turner, Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham and others engage in this type of apologism if you will, for their own political interest. To faceplate on the knee of Donald Trump. They do it very well, from Graham to Scott to Mike Turner to Elise Stefanik … name ’em,” Jolly said Monday in an interview with MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.”

The Hill reached out to the offices of Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) for further comment.

Trump has recently faced mounting backlash after claiming he would encourage Russia to attack NATO allies who do not carry their financial weight with regards to the alliance’s defense spending targets.

The former president, during a Feb. 11 campaign rally, recounted a story about when a foreign leader questioned him about his threat not to defend members who do not hit the alliance’s defense spending targets.

“You didn’t pay?” Trump said he responded. “You’re delinquent; no, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”

The remarks further fueled fears about what a second Trump term in the White House could mean for the United States’s European allies.

Some of Trump’s allies, for their part, have largely shrugged off any concerns.

Turner, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, defended the remarks Sunday and claimed the former president’s comments at rallies do not translate into his “actual policies.”

Scott, who suspended his own White House bid last fall, dismissed Trump’s comments when asked about them Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The South Carolina Republican instead turned the focus on President Biden, who he argued is “dragging his feet.”

Graham on Sunday also said he supports the former president’s calls to get members of the alliance to contribute to what would be considered their fair share.

Jolly said Monday he does not believe the current Republican Party considers Russia “an adversary.”

“I don’t believe they see Vladimir Putin as uniquely evil, and that is a pivot from GOP orthodoxy,” Jolly said. “And I think what is so fascinating about that — concerning as it is — sure there are national security interests for the U.S. and the West to no longer see Donald Trump as an adversary or see Vladimir Putin as an adversary if Republicans take control or if Donald Trump ends up in the White House.”

“The flip side of that coin is the embrace of American weakness,” he said, adding later, “Today’s Republican Party has embraced American weakness. They are OK looking the other way and giving equity to Vladimir Putin and Russia. And that’s not just a pivot of orthodoxy, that’s a new chapter of Republicanism.”

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