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In an interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan for "Axios on HBO," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called President Trump an "equal opportunity abuser" and said that he's trying to help the president be successful.

The big picture: Graham and Trump have a complicated relationship. Graham openly admitting to voting for another candidate in 2016, but Graham has actively worked with the president to advance his legislative priorities, and has been one of Trump's top defenders against impeachment in the Senate.

What they're saying: Confronted about his relationship with the president, Graham said he is trying to be "reflective" about the reason Americans elected Trump.

  • "There are a lot of working class folks who felt like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and Lindsey Graham did not give a damn about them."
  • "I mean, she was secretary of state, first lady, United States senator. She lost to Donald Trump. I lost to Donald Trump. Jeb Bush lost to Donald Trump."
  • "Maybe we should be a little bit reflective. I've chosen to be reflective. I've chosen to try to find out how to make Trump successful but not at all cost."

Graham also went back and forth on his previous remarks calling Trump a "bigot," insisting that he was speaking on Trump's campaign as a whole and not Trump individually.

  • "I've come to believe that my job is put America ahead of me. People in South Carolina like Trump. They want me to work with him. I represent them. I owe it to them to try. I owe it to him to try," Graham said.
  • "The American people said he wasn't a bigot. I don't think they woulda elected one," Graham said, adding that he doesn't personally believe Trump to be a bigot.

The bottom line: Asked if he's sincerely changed his beliefs on Trump's character, Graham said yes, stating: "I've got to know him. And I find him to be a handful... But at the end of the day, he can be very charming and be very gracious. And I'm judging him by his conduct."

Go deeper: Graham broke South Carolina's fundraising record in Q3, campaign says

Go deeper

Hill votes will make global waves

President Biden addresses the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Eduardo Munoz-Pool/Getty Images)

This epic week for President Biden on Capitol Hill is even bigger than his domestic agenda.

Why it matters: Biden has anchored his entire strategy for foreign affairs on the notion that "America is back." What that means in practice is that Biden needs to prove democracy works to rally America’s liberal allies against rising authoritarians.

2 hours ago - World

German election: Exit polls show close race to succeed Angela Merkel

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The first exit poll from Sunday's German elections showed the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) and the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) in a dead heat at 25%, leaving the race to succeed Angela Merkel too close to call.

The state of play: A second exit poll showed the SPD narrowly ahead. That's the one televisions displayed at SPD headquarters in Berlin, where the room erupted into cheers. Official results will roll in throughout the evening.

Abbott says he'll hire Border Patrol agents on horseback

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday defended the actions of U.S. Border Patrol agents who charged at Haitian migrants on horseback, blaming the Biden administration for not preventing them from crossing the border.

Why it matters: Abbott's remark on "Fox News Sunday" comes amid increased backlash over the incident, with President Biden saying, "I promise... those people will pay,” and the Department of Homeland Security launching an investigation.