The senior Republican senator from South Carolina -- who serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and opposes taking sexual assault cases out of the military chain of command -- says that women in the armed services "put up with way too much crap."
In a Memorial Day interview, Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that the Department of Defense had estimated that there were 26,000 members of the armed forces sexually assaulted last year.
"I want to salute the women who serve and are putting up with way too much crap," Graham replied. "This needs to end. When a victim comes forward, they should have an advocate to walk them through the military justice system. And commanders who allow this to continue to flourish, quite frankly, should be fired."
"It is a disgrace to the United States military. And the women in the military are needed now more than ever, and they're putting up with way too much and it needs to end."
Earlier this month, Graham said that he opposed a bill sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that would strip military commanders of the decision of prosecute sexual assault cases.
The South Carolina Republican insisted that the decision should remain within the chain of command.
"I think it will do a lot of damage," Graham said. "For 200 years, military commanders have been the court martial authority."
"And sexual assaults are not on the rise because the military justice system lets people go. It’s on the rise because of the culture that’s created in the military."
In February, Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin enraged members of Congress by overturning a jury's guilty verdict in a sexual assault case.