Sep 29, 2019

Graham defends Trump's Ukraine call as "ethical" and calls for Biden probe

Speaking to CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) attacked the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint as a "political setup" and suggested appointing a special investigator to look into allegations that Joe Biden forced Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating his son.

The exchange:

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think it was ethical for the president to bring up Joe Biden?
GRAHAM: Yes, absolutely. I think somebody ought to look at whether or not Joe Biden had the prosecutor fired and in a proper way. I love Joe Biden, I don't want to look at it. I want an inspector general, somebody like Mueller. Did Biden know that his son was receiving $50,000 a month from a gas company being investigated by the prosecutor --
BRENNAN: Isn't that just his payment for being on the board?
GRAHAM: The board, the guy's on the board being investigated for corruption and the guy doing the investigation is asked to be fired by Biden — I don't know what happened. It smells to high heaven. I never said the Mueller investigation was a witch hunt. I introduced legislation to protect Mueller. This seems to me like a political setup. This is all hearsay. You can't get a parking ticket conviction based on hearsay. The whistleblower didn't hear the phone call. Who told the whistleblower about the phone call and everything else?

The big picture: President Trump and his allies have been doubling down on claims about Biden's alleged corruption, which sparked a formal impeachment inquiry after it was revealed that Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.

Reality check: As the Washington Post and others have fact-checked, Biden was one of many Western officials calling for Ukraine to fire top prosecutor Viktor Shokin — not because Shokin was investigating the company where Hunter Biden worked, but because he had failed to root out corruption.

  • In fact, Shokin was not investigating Burisma, the energy company whose board Hunter Biden sat on, at the time of his firing.
  • The Ukrainian prosecutor who first floated the allegations about the Bidens, Yuri Lutsenko, has since said there is no evidence that the Bidens broke any Ukrainian laws.

Between the lines: Graham and Biden have a close relationship, having served in the Senate together for decades. Graham was a vocal opponent of Trump while running against him in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, but he has since become one of Trump's most loyal allies and defenders in the Senate.

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