President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina exchanged criticisms regarding the president's statements about the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Graham praised Trump for his condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who was killed Aug. 12, but was critical of the lingering effects of his message, particularly his choice to place blame on both sides.
"However, because of the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy, you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country. For the sake of our nation -- as our President -- please fix this," Graham tweeted Aug. 17, reports CNN.
Graham is one of the few Republican lawmakers to directly rebuke the president for his handling of the Charlottesville issue. Former Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued a joint statement condemning the violence and white supremacy but did not explicitly reference Trump.
Trump had criticized Graham earlier on Twitter, issuing a pair of tweets early in the morning Aug. 17.
"Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis, & white supremacists and people like Ms. Heyer," Trump wrote. "Such a disgusting lie. He just can't forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember!"
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Graham had said if then-candidate Trump came to South Carolina, he would "beat his brains out" in the primary election, according to USA Today. Graham did not get the opportunity, as he suspended his presidential campaign months before the South Carolina primaries. Trump won the state with 32.5 percent of the vote.
Although the two men have been at odds for much of Trump's presidency, Graham's remarks during a CNN interview Aug. 16 began the Twitter feud between the two Republicans.
"Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer," Graham said. "I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency."
Graham also said many Republicans reject the idea that the party has become a "welcome mat" for David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacists and seek to return it to the "party of Lincoln."
Duke thanked Trump on Twitter, praising the president for his "honesty and courage."