Senator Tim Scott has never been seen as a complete MAGA loyalist. On January 6, he voted against the challenges to the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania. Yet, he received President Trump’s endorsement for re-election to the United States Senate. While in some ways, it seems to be a very odd move (Scott did back Rubio strongly in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries). In other ways, it represents a sign that Trump is working to cement the MAGA coalition’s control of the Republican Party.
When taken in context, this is not as surprising as it should be. Trump met with Senator Lindsey Graham, who also represents South Carolina, the weekend prior to the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to discuss the future of the Republican Party. Graham, widely seen as a close ally of John McCain (and backed Rubio in 2016), was a very welcome guest at Mar-a-Lago. Again. Graham and Trump didn’t see eye-to-eye on every issue. So, what is up with the rapprochement between Trump and Graham?
Part of it has been that the Lindsey Graham of 2021 is not the Lindsey Graham, who was often derisively nicknamed “Grahamnesty.” Graham has emerged as a tough fighter against the Left, who may not have aligned 100 percent with Trump on policy matters (Graham is more interventionist than is comfortable for the MAGA coalition), but there seems to be a sense of mutual respect, if not trust between Graham and Trump.
Much of it appears to stem from judicial nominations. Graham was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 116th Congress and moved through the Amy Coney Barrett nomination in late 2020. Scott was supportive of all three of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees and just about every one of his appellate court nominees.