October 08, 2019

Graham Asks Giuliani to Testify in New GOP-Led Probe on Ukraine
(Bloomberg) -- Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham reversed course Tuesday and announced he’ll open a Ukraine inquiry that would give President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, an opportunity to testify in a counter to the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.Graham has previously said he would not open such an investigation, pushing instead for someone outside of politics at the Department of Justice to look at matters involving Ukraine, including Trump’s and Giuliani’s allegations about the actions of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.“Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine,” Graham said on Twitter, citing actions leading to the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor.“Therefore I will offer to Mr. Giuliani the opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to inform the committee of his concerns,” Graham, a Republican and close ally of Trump, said on Twitter.Graham’s counter-attack on the House’s impeachment inquiry came after days of pressure from top Trump allies including Donald Trump Jr. for Graham to act. It presents the Trump White House with a high-profile congressional forum to present its own narrative about unsubstantiated allegations about Biden, a potential challenger to Trump in 2020.But it also would put Giuliani on the record about his months-long public and private effort to push Ukraine’s government to launch a probe even as Trump himself was blocking military aid to Ukraine’s new government.Democrats EagerDemocrats suggested they were eager to question Giuliani. A hearing with Giuliani potentially would turn the spotlight over to some of Biden’s competitors in the Democratic primary who sit on the Judiciary Committee -- Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.In response to Graham’s proposal, Harris tweeted, “Good. I have questions.”California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on Judiciary, said in a statement she would “welcome the opportunity to question Rudy Giuliani under oath about his role in seeking the Ukrainian government’s assistance to investigate one of the president’s political rivals.”She said Democrats “have plenty of questions for Mr. Giuliani.”Giuliani hasn’t committed to testifying before Graham’s committee and suggested he was weighing whether the information he has falls under attorney-client privilege.“Very interested but need to review because of privilege issue,” he said in a text message.Graham accused House Democrats of conducting a one-sided investigation, but it’s not clear yet how extensive his probe will be.“We’ll hear from Giuliani and then determine what, if any additional witnesses need to be called,” said Graham spokeswoman Taylor Reidy.Democrats leading the House impeachment inquiry are focusing on whether Trump threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine and other considerations including a meeting unless the government investigated Biden’s actions regarding Ukraine when he was in office.Until now, Graham had deferred to the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Republican Chairman Richard Burr and top Democrat Mark Warner, who have been quietly conducting their own probe into a whistle-blower complaint about Trump’s Ukraine actions entirely behind closed doors. Graham had also told reporters he would not investigate the Bidens, saying that would effectively shut down the Senate on other matters.A spokesman for Biden, Andrew Bates, said in a statement that “bringing forward noted conspiracist and liar Rudy Giuliani would further discredit the reputation of the Senate Judiciary Committee under Senator Graham.”Graham’s decision came just hours after the State Department blocked U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland from appearing before the three House panels leading the investigation. The Democratic chairmen of the committees said they would subpoena Sondland for his testimony as well as communications from his personal devices that have been turned over to the State Department.Giuliani is at the center of the storm over Trump’s attempt to pry damaging information about Biden out of Ukraine. House Democrats have subpoenaed Giuliani for documents he referred to in TV interviews regarding his communications with associates in Kiev and in the State Department.Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, has made claims that Biden as vice president used leverage to force out Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor Viktor Shokin to protect from prosecution his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holding.Ukraine’s former president, Petro Poroshenko, has said that Biden never asked him to open or close any criminal cases, adding to the list of Ukrainian officials saying they saw him do nothing improper involving his son.Biden has said he called for the prosecutor’s ouster to foster more anti-corruption probes, and Ukrainian officials have said Hunter Biden was not under investigation. Shokin was broadly considered ineffectual by Western nations, accused of corruption by his deputy, and removed in 2016 under pressure from European nations and the Obama administration, as well as some Republican senators.Trump, in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, had recommended that Zelenskiy contact Giuliani for guidance on allegations regarding Biden and his son.Trump and Giuliani also have suggested that Ukraine was involved in interfering in the 2016 election as they’ve sought to undermine the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling, an allegation Ukrainian officials have rejected.(Updates with statements from Feinstein, Giuliani in ninth through 12th paragraphs)\--With assistance from Jordan Fabian.To contact the reporter on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie AsséoFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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