GOP senators float Biden probe as Ukraine controversy escalates

A pair of GOP chairmen are floating the idea of investigating former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden MORE as Democratic calls grow for President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE to be impeached over his communications with Ukraine's leader.

Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Senators opt to drink milk on Senate floor during impeachment trial MORE (R-Wis.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Senator-jurors who may not be impartial? Remove them for cause Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa MORE (R-S.C.) both raised the possibility of an investigation into Biden after the White House released a record of a July 25 phone call that showed Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Biden.

Democrats have reacted to the records released by the White House by saying they make the case for impeachment, but Republicans are countering with calls for Biden to be investigated.

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"I've got some real legitimate questions about what happened with Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden, what was happening over there. ... I have a lot of questions that should be answered," Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told reporters on Wednesday.

He said that it would be "completely appropriate" for the Senate to probe Biden.

Asked if there would be a Senate investigation, he added: "As part of my oversight responsibilities we continue to ask questions, we continue to gather information, oversight letters on a host of issues, that would certainly be one of them."

Trump and his allies have latched onto Biden’s connection to Ukraine as the former vice president seeks the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in 2020.

Hunter Biden worked on the board of a natural gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch while his father served as vice president. Joe Biden pushed in 2016 for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been accused of overlooking corruption in his own office, threatening to withhold money if the prosecutor was not fired.

There’s no indication Joe Biden was acting with his son’s interests in mind and the former vice president has denied doing so. But Trump and his allies, including Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits MORE, have pushed for an investigation into the Bidens in Ukraine and decried the former vice president as “corrupt.”

Trump, according to a five-page readout of the call, suggested Zelensky work with Giuliani to investigate, telling him "whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great."

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Wednesday that he thought someone "should look at corruption," but that the probe should be outside of the Senate.

"I hope somebody will look at why the guy was fired," he added.

Graham, a close ally of Trump's on Capitol Hill, has called for a probe into the Bidens amid reports that Trump and Giuliani urged Ukraine to investigate Biden.

He told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he thought without an investigation there would be a double standard against Trump, who was at the center of a two-year investigation into the 2016 election.

"The prosecutor was looking at things in the Ukraine, and he got fired, and there’s all kind of allegations about the Ukraine dumping information into the legal system and political system in 2016 about [Paul] Manafort and others, you know, Hunter Biden, what kind of situation did he have financially?" Graham asked.

Morgan Chalfant contributed