Lindsey Graham’s relentless, vocal criticism of Donald Trump has scored him an invite to meet this weekend with global leaders behind closed doors at one of the world's most secretive annual gatherings.
The South Carolina Republican senator will join 126 high-profile figures from 20 countries for the annual Bilderberg Group meeting, his office confirmed Thursday. According to the guest list these include two prime ministers, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde as well as a mix of politicians, bankers, business leaders and former CIA head David Petraeus.
While the details are kept under wraps, the agenda will include the European migration crisis and unity, the U.S. political landscape and economy, and cybersecurity issues. The European unity portion of the agenda is likely to center on the June 23 referendum on whether Britain should remain a member of the European Union.
126 attendees from 20 countries include two prime ministers, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.
Graham is likely to have been invited to speak about Donald Trump, whose unlikely rise to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has generated concern in Europe. In the last year Graham has compared voting for Trump to being poisoned, a Trump presidency to “booking a ticket on the Titanic” that could “lead to another 9/11” and civil war, and declared that his party has “gone bat---- crazy.” His insistence that electing Trump is dangerous, not only for the U.S. but also for its allies, mirrors the concerns of many European politicians who have listened to the businessman’s inflammatory statements with increasing alarm.
Graham will also have something to say about Britain’s European Union referendum. In a Washington Post opinion piece with New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen published Thursday, he urged British citizens to vote to stay in the EU.
Later this month, people in Britain will decide for themselves whether to stay in or leave the EU. Respectfully, we urge our friends to stay.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., in Washington Post opinion piece
“A British exit from the EU would open a Pandora’s box of new problems for Europe,” he and Shaheen, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote, calling it the “worst possible time” to withdraw.
“Already, European cohesion is being undermined by terrorism, the migration crisis and Russia’s aggression and political meddling,” they wrote. “On this side of the Atlantic, we have our own isolationist, ‘America first’ voices. But history tells us that isolationism is a dead end.”
The Bilderberg Group held its first meeting in 1954, and it became an annual event where European and North American leaders could brainstorm the issues of the day, from nuclear weapons to communism to cybersecurity. Its heavy security and strict guidelines have made it a favorite for global conspiracy theorists. The organization imposes something known as the Chatham House Rule, which allows attendees to use the information they gather at the meeting but never to disclose who said what or to whom, according to the group’s website.