Freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) awkwardly struggled to explain her accusation that Sen. Lindsey Graham is "compromised" in her response to a tweet implying that the South Carolina senator is being blackmailed to support President Trump.
They got to him, he is compromised! https://t.co/m8sB3EmElg— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 16, 2019
When pressed on her tweet by CNN, Omar said "I am pretty sure that there is something happening with him - whether it is something that has to do with his funding when it comes to running for office. Whether it has to do with the polling that they might have in his district. Or whether it has to do with some sort of leadership within the Senate," adding "He is somehow compromised"
Jim Sciutto: That's quite a charge to make, you say you're pretty sure - based on what evidence? What facts? That's a remarkable comment to make about a sitting US Senator.
Omar: The, the, the, the evidence really is present to us - it's being presented to us by the way he is behaving.
Poppy Harlow: But that's not evidence, that's your opinion.
Omar: My tweet was just an opinion based on what I believe to be visible to me, and I'm pretty sure there are lots of Americans who agree on this.
As noted by Grabien, accusations of Graham being blackmailed are part of a longstanding "whisper campaign" over the South Carolina Senator's sexuality - such as this Sunday tweet from the chair of a Democratic super PAC, John Cooper, who said that Graham was being "probably" being blackmailed over "some pretty serious sexual 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
This started when a coordinator for Dem Coalition specifically stated "pretty serious sexual kink". Two days later, it made it's way to MSNBC where Stephanie Ruhle said "Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham" And now a sitting member of congress https://t.co/hnkYDgrxas— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) January 17, 2019
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
Meanwhile, on MSNBC, anchor Stephanie Ruhle made the same claim. During a panel on the same day as Rashid’s tweet, Graham’s 2015 “bigot” comment was brought up. Former Republican David Jolly said Graham apparently has a “change of heart.”
Or, Ruhle said, “Donald Trump or somebody knows something pretty extreme about Lindsey Graham.”
“Pretty extreme”? The idea, of course, was to let viewers’ imaginations take over from there. Ruhle is not the only MSNBC host to traffic in anti-gay rumor-mongering about Graham. On a now-defunct blog, her colleague Joy Ann Reid repeatedly referred to Graham as “Miss Lindsey.” (She also accused Karl Rove, then-Republican Charlie Crist, and the son of Chief Justice Roberts of being gay.) -Grabien
Graham has previously denied being gay, telling the New York Times in 2010: "I ain't gay."