Graham, Giuliani Team Up To Use Senate In Bid To Scramble Ukraine Story

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks on his phone before the weekly GOP policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, September 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanau... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks on his phone before the weekly GOP policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, September 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) plans to “inquire” into long-debunked and never remotely substantiated allegations that formed the basis of political dirt that President Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into manufacturing.

Graham invited Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggesting that the senator may be embarking on a quest to use the Senate’s relative prestige to launch a Benghazi-style inquiry that would give a megaphone to the debunked claims the President and his personal lawyer are making about Ukraine, and provide a counternarrative to the impeachment investigation underway in the House.

Republicans have scrambled in recent weeks to come up with responses to revelations that the Trump administration withheld a $250 million security assistance package to Ukraine as the President and Giuliani pushed the country’s leadership to manufacture political dirt.

At least some of that dirt has to do with debunked allegations that Joe Biden used his position to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin to protect his son — then on the board of a Ukrainian gas firm — from criminal prosecution.

Graham invoked Shokin while announcing his invitation to Giuliani on Twitter Tuesday.

Graham went on to claim that the House’s impeachment inquiry forced his hand in the matter, making the statement within an hour after House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) accused the Trump administration of “obstruction” for objecting to the testimony of key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.

Graham said that the “behavior” of the House meant it was “time for the Senate to inquire about corruption” and therefore invite Giuliani to testify.

After making the initial announcement, Graham added that “it’s now time to give voice to everything Ukraine.”

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement that she would “welcome the opportunity to question Rudy Giuliani under oath.”

She added that it “would give us an opportunity to help separate fact from fiction for the American people.”

Graham has gone from being a vociferous critic of Trump’s to one of his most vicious attack dogs in the Senate.

Giving Giuliani the platform of the Senate Judiciary Committee — typically used for the more staid purpose of filling out the federal bench — would give a megaphone to the counternarratives that the right has been pushing to defend the President since the Trump-Ukraine scandal broke.

Graham’s office did not reply to a request for comment.

Tierney Sneed contributed to this report.

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