Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attacked Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) on Friday in an appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program.
McCain said that no Republican U.S. Senator should vote for the confirmation of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, even though Graham, Flake, Collins, and Hatch all said they plan to. McCain said:
Loretta Lynch has said that the President’s unconstitutional executive orders are ‘reasonable.’ Then if that is the case, no Republican should vote for her confirmation, because she is going to implement what the President himself said 22 times would be unconstitutional actions. And by the way, I also believe that Mitch McConnell is right that we should not even bring it up until we get this human trafficking bill disposed of. Children are being mistreated in the worst possible ways while we dither over a provision in the bill which was long ago settled.
Hewitt, for what it’s worth, outed himself as a public supporter of McCain’s re-election campaign should McCain decide to run and should he face a primary challenge from either U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) or Kelli Ward—a state senator and family practice doctor.
“Senator McCain, I think I may see you in Arizona next week,” Hewitt ended the interview by saying. “You get this Defense spending through, I’m going to be wearing my McCain reelect in 2016 button. Thank you, Senator, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.”
It’s interesting that Hewitt would put himself forward as a supporter of McCain’s re-election effort, especially when he is supposed to be a neutral arbiter of the 2016 GOP presidential debates, at least one of which he is going to be involved in hosting by asking questions of the candidates.
Nonetheless, what’s more interesting about Hewitt’s interview with McCain is the fact that McCain is now at odds very publicly with two of his closest allies—Flake and Graham—in the U.S. Senate. Graham, who also appeared on Hewitt’s program on Friday, was not asked by the radio host about his position on Lynch—even though Graham has said publicly many times before he plans to vote for Lynch’s nomination.
Graham’s spokesman, Kevin Bishop, on Friday confirmed to Breitbart News, however, that Graham still intends to defy McCain by voting for Lynch—political consequences for McCain back home in Arizona be damned.
“Sen. Graham believes it is time to turn the page on Eric Holder as Attorney General,” Bishop said in an email.
Spokespeople for the only other three Republicans who have said they plan to vote for Lynch’s nomination—Flake and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT)—have not immediately responded to requests for comment on whether they plan to continue forward with jeopardizing McCain’s re-election efforts by voting for Lynch. Since there are 46 Democrats in the U.S. Senate, if four Republicans join all the Democrats, then there would be 50 votes for Lynch. Vice President Joe Biden could come in and cast the tiebreaker vote for her at the end, meaning she would barely squeak by to confirmation if four Republicans break ranks with the party to vote for her.
In a recent interview with Breitbart News, Ward—the state senator considering running against McCain—laid out how McCain would be personally responsible if Lynch is confirmed because four of his Republican colleagues voted for her. That means if Graham, Flake, Hatch, and Collins—or any other combination of four plus Republican senators—vote for Lynch, then even though McCain is voting no, he will be personally responsible for her confirmation and all the consequences that come as a result of that. In the cases of Graham and Flake, Ward noted, it’s particularly egregious, since McCain has already endorsed Graham for president if the South Carolinian decides to run, and Flake is from his state.
“I think it’s kind of funny—as we know, it only takes four of us [Republicans] to get her confirmed,” Ward said in an interview. “You would think as the senior senator he might have some influence over the guy he’s supporting for president and his colleague in the Senate from the state of Arizona. I hope he does, because I would like to see this nomination stopped—I would have liked to see it stopped in the committee process.”
If McCain is unable to flip Graham’s, Flake’s, Hatch’s, or Collins’ votes, or loses any other Republicans, then McCain will have had a hand in every thing Lynch does as Attorney General, Ward said. She added:
I think he [McCain] will have had a hand in it [whatever Lynch does if she does get confirmed]. You see him on the Sunday shows defending the president, defending the president’s views and telling us that we just need to move on, move on, move away from executive amnesty, move on from immigration. Well, the people of Arizona don’t want to move on from immigration. They want us to uphold our immigration laws. They want us to secure our border. It’s bad when our senior senator thinks we should just move on to some other issue but it’s important to Arizonans and important to Americans.
The ramifications back home for McCain could be disastrous should he fail to flip his fellow colleagues, as it would be seen as yet another broken promise to the people of Arizona–just like he failed to build “the danged fence” he promised in the last election.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is currently holding up Lynch’s confirmation vote because the Democrats in the U.S. Senate have been blocking anti-human trafficking legislation. That may throw this vote off for even more time, meaning McCain will have had plenty of time before this comes up to the floor to ensure his colleagues don’t vote for Lynch.
In a quote to Politico on Thursday, Hatch signaled he may be willing to withdraw his support for Lynch if the Democrats keep their tactics up.
“The leader is right on that,” Hatch said of McConnell’s decision to keep the Lynch vote off the floor for now due to Democrat stonewalling. “He sees them playing a pure political ploy to satisfy Planned Parenthood and NARAL and abortion rights activists. And he can’t let them get away with that.”
It’s unclear, however, if Hatch will make a full turnaround and vote against Lynch when the time comes.