Sen. Lindsey Graham defends attempted Biden probe, bemoans anti-Trump bias

"If a Republican was in the same position, they'd certainly be investigated," Graham argues, requesting Biden docs

Published November 25, 2019 5:45PM (EST)

Lindsey Graham, Hunter Biden and Joe Biden (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)
Lindsey Graham, Hunter Biden and Joe Biden (Getty Images/AP Photo/Salon)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended his request for documents related to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter's work in Ukraine, part of the GOP's latest effort to counter the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

"I like Joe Biden, I like him a lot, I think he's a fine man," Graham told reporters Monday in Charleston, South Carolina. "I'm not saying Joe did anything wrong but I want to see the transcripts, and if there's nothing there I'll be the first one to say there's nothing there. But we're not going to live in a country where just one party gets investigated."

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, Graham requested all documents and transcripts related to communications that Biden, as vice president, may have had with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko regarding the firing of Ukraine's top prosecutor, as well as any that noted an investigation of Burisma Holdings,  the Ukrainian energy company that then employed Hunter Biden, the former veep's son.

Graham also requested records of a meeting between Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's business partner and a Burisma board member, with then-Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016.

It is not clear whether the State Department will comply with Graham's document request. Graham did not provide a deadline for the State Department to turn over the material.

Earlier on Monday, Graham tweeted that "Hunter Biden's association on the Burisma board doesn't pass the smell test," adding that "if a Republican was in the same position, they'd certainly be investigated."

Graham has appeared eager to bolster Trump's accusations that Biden put pressure on Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to protect Hunter Biden — a claim that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into Trump. House Democrats are investigating allegations that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to investigate the Biden family, as well as a baseless conspiracy theory about Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have argued that Biden acted inappropriately in pushing Ukraine to fire its prosecutor by withholding $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. Biden, at the time, was leading a charge supported by the Obama administration and many Western officials, who argued that Shokin was ignoring corruption in his own office and among the political elite.

As Biden dived into Ukraine to tackle rampant corruption, his son joined the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company that was the subject of a series of corruption investigations. Though Hunter Biden was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation, anti-corruption advocates expressed concern that he served at the company at the same time his father was the Obama administration's point person on relations with Ukraine.

Throughout the impeachment hearings, Republicans have sought to redirect the narrative to focus on the Bidens in an effort to shield the president from allegations that he abused his office. Trump's allies in Congress have requested Hunter Biden's testimony, although Democrats have so far refused.

Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine who was asked to testify by Republicans, said during his appearance last week on Capitol Hill that "allegations against Vice President Biden are self-serving and not credible."

Last week, Biden told CNN that he was "embarrassed" for Graham for requesting the documents, claiming that Trump was "holding power" over the South Carolina Republican.

"I am disappointed and quite frankly I am angered by the fact. He knows me, he knows my son, he knows there's nothing to this," Biden said in a tense exchange with CNN's Don Lemon. "Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he's going to regret his whole life."

Biden has fiercely defended his actions in Ukraine, and his son's. He has said that as vice president he acted appropriately and worked to "root out corruption in Ukraine," as the Obama administration had desired.

Witnesses testifying as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry over the past couple of weeks have addressed allegations that Trump attempted to solicit Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election. Democrats have alleged that Trump sought to leverage a potential White House meeting with Ukraine's president and millions of dollars in military aid approved by Congress in an effort to pressure that nation to investigate the Biden family. They have argued that Trump's communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amounted to a "quid pro quo."

U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland testified last week there was a quid pro quo and that it was widely known throughout the Trump administration.

"Was there a 'quid pro quo'"? Sondland, a major GOP donor who gave $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee, told lawmakers. "The answer is yes. . . . Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret."

Trump has maintained his innocence and denied any wrongdoing in regards to his communications with Ukraine, repeatedly describing his July 25 phone call with Zelensky as "perfect."

By Shira Tarlo

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