South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is publicly defending his decision to probe former colleague Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter – and asserted he was not claiming Biden had done anything wrong.
Graham said he liked Biden, a former senator from Delaware, ‘as a person’ but said said Hunter Biden’s service on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while Biden was vice president was an obvious conflict of interest. His defense comes Biden accused Graham of caving to political pressure, saying: ‘They have him under their thumb right now.’
‘I like Joe Biden, I like him a lot, I think he’s a fine man,’ said Graham, whose political Odyssey includes having worked with Biden in Congress, forged a close bond with the late Republican Sen. John McCain, blasted Trump in the primaries, and then became a loyal Trump defender on impeachment as well as golf partner.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks with reporters as he walks through the Senate Subway to vote at the U.S. Capitol on November 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. Biden’s camp said Graham was desperate to avoid a primary
Days after firing off a letter requesting documents that could be used to damage the Bidens or blunt a Democratic impeachment probe, Graham told Politico: ‘I’m not saying Joe did anything wrong but I want to see the transcripts. But 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 only one party gets investigated,’ said Graham, who angered Democrats by failing to call special Robert Mueller to testify before his committee and instead announced a probe of the FBI’s conduct in the Russia probe.
Graham didn’t deny an affection for Biden when the two served together in the Senate.
Graham tweeted that he loves Joe Biden ‘as a person’ but that Hunter Biden’s role on a Ukrainian energy company board ‘doesn’t pass the smell test’
Graham’s request for information about Hunter Biden last week came on a day when Trump (pictured with Boyko Borissov, Bulgaria’s prime minister) said Hunter Biden should be called as a witness in a Senate impeachment trial
From left, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., share a laugh after a mock swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014
GRIP AND GRIN: Vice President Joe Biden shares a laugh with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. before Biden administered the Senate oath during a ceremonial re-enactment swearing-in ceremony, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington
‘I love Joe Biden as a person but we are not going to give a pass to what is obviously a conflict of interest,’ Graham tweeted Monday. ‘I believe Hunter Biden’s association on the Burisma board doesn’t pass the smell test. If a Republican was in the same position, they’d certainly be investigated!’ he wrote.
During last week’s House public impeachment hearings, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified that he raised concerns about appearances in 2015 when Hunter Biden was put on Burisma’s board – even as he testified there was ‘no factual basis’ by Rudy Giuliani’s claim of Ukrainian political interference in the U.S. elections.
President Trump indicated in an interview Friday he wants to see Republicans to call Hunter Biden to testify if impeachment ends up in the Senate for a trial.
Last week, Biden unloaded on his friend and former colleague Graham after the Judiciary Chairman issued a sweeping document request on Biden’s work with Ukraine and his son’s work on a Ukrainian company board.
Biden, who held Ukraine in his portfolio for President Obama, blasted the South Carolina senator hours after Graham sent out a request for State Department documents. The letter showed a focus on the former vice president’s interactions with former Ukrainian President Poroshenko, as well as a meeting between Hunter Biden, his business partner Devon Archer, and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
‘They have him under their thumb right now. They know he knows that if he comes out against Trump, he’s got a real tough road for reelection, number one,’ Biden told CNN.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said he was ’embarrassed’ by the latest actions by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
Biden, who served with Graham in the Senate, said he was ’embarrassed’ for his former colleague, who blasted Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primary but has become a loyal defender and golf partner for the president.
‘I am disappointed, and quite frankly I’m angered, by the fact -–he knows me; he knows my son; he knows there’s nothing to this,’ Biden said.
‘Trump is now essentially holding power over him that even the Ukrainians wouldn’t yield to. The Ukrainians would not yield to, quote, ‘investigate Biden’ – there’s nothing to investigate about Biden or his son.’
Trump told Fox News he wants to call Hunter Biden as a witness at any impeachment trial
Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, told an impeachment inquiry U.S. officials were on a domestic ‘political errand’ on Ukraine
Biden was referring to Trump’s request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigated the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma as well as a conspiracy theory about the 2016 Democratic server.
Witnesses testified Zelensky was on the verge of making a public statement about the investigations when he called off the move just as the Ukraine affair was exploding in U.S. politics.
Biden’s comments, to be aired in prime time Friday, came after his campaign manager Andrew Bates went after Graham in a Politico interview.
Graham wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seeking documents
He wants documents on Joe Biden as well as Hunter Biden
Devon Archer, far left, golfing in the Hamptons with former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, far right, in 2014. Archer served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings with Hunter for a reported $50,000 per month
‘Driven by fear of a mean tweet, they are falling in line, peddling the same disproven lies we’ve heard for months. Lindsey Graham has forfeited his conscience to escape a primary,’ Bates said. Graham represents a conservative state where opposition from Trump could cause serious political consequences.
‘Trump is now counting on his Republican enablers in the Senate to bail him out,’ Bates said, amid a new focus on a potential Senate impeachment trial.
Graham on Thursday wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who refused to testify in the House Democratic impeachment inquiry – seeking 2016 documents that could muddy Biden.
He sought all documents related to Biden’s calls to former Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko in February and March of that year, when Biden demanded the resignation of a chief prosecutor generally considered corrupt. He also wants documents related to Burisma founder Mykola Zlockhevsky, as well as the Hunter Biden meeting with Kerry.
Hunter Biden got a lucrative job on the board of the company.
Graham’s request came after national security Russia expert Fiona Hill testified that a group of U.S. officials were on a ‘domestic political errand’ when they tried to get Ukraine to probe Burisma. She also said Russia has been pushing a disinformation campaign that Ukraine, not Moscow, was behind 2016 interference in the U.S. elections.