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Graham says he'll invite Giuliani to testify about Ukraine

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump critics push new direction for GOP Graham warns about trying to 'drive' Trump from GOP: 'Half the people will leave' Cheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP MORE (R-S.C.) said on Tuesday that he will invite President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe FBI should turn off the FARA faucet Michael Cohen on Giuliani's legal fees: He won't get 'two cents' from Trump Lawyer for accused Capitol rioter says client had 'Foxitis,' 'Foxmania' MORE to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Ukraine.
 
"I will offer to Mr. Giuliani the opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to inform the committee of his concerns," Graham said in a string of tweets.
Graham said that his decision came after hearing from Giuliani on "numerous occasions disturbing allegations ... about corruption in Ukraine and the many improprieties surrounding the firing of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin."
 
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"Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine," he added.
 
Graham didn't specifically mention former Vice President Joe Biden or the Democratic presidential contender's son Hunter Biden as part of his public invitation.
 
But the hearing would likely give Giuliani a forum to air his claims that Biden, while serving as vice president, pushed a former top prosecutor in Ukraine to be fired to help his son.
 
There's been no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president.
 
"I would consider it very seriously just have to check out the question of privilege," Giuliani said in a text message to The Hill.

It would also give three 2020 Democratic presidential candidates — Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerPolice reform talks hit familiar stumbling block Almost 20 advocacy groups team up to pressure Congress to pass health care bill for immigrants Biden adds pressure to congressional talks with self-imposed deadlines MORE (N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMcConnell: 'Good chance' of deal with Biden on infrastructure Democrat Nikki Fried teases possible challenge to DeSantis Pavlich: The border crisis Biden said we could afford MORE (Calif.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar offers tribute to her father, who died Wednesday The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill MORE (Minn.) — a high-profile stage to question Giuliani, and knock Trump.

Harris quickly pounced on Graham's announcement, writing in a tweet: "Good. I have questions."

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinIf you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, added in a statement that Democrats would support having Giuliani testify and would want to question him "about his role in seeking the Ukrainian government’s assistance to investigate one of the president’s political rivals."

"Democratic members have plenty of questions for Mr. Giuliani and this would give us an opportunity to help separate fact from fiction for the American people," she added. 

The decision to invite Giuliani marks a reversal for Graham, who had previously indicated that he wanted "all things Ukraine" investigated but didn't think the Senate should be the body leading the probe.

Asked what action he would take in the Judiciary Committee about Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine, Graham told reporters before the two-week recess that "we're not going to do anything."

“I don’t want to turn the Senate into a circus,” Graham added. “I want somebody to look at the conflict of interest outside of politics.”

He had also previously criticized Giuliani, telling reporters last month that "I’m not sure he’s helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes."

Graham has emerged as a vocal defender of Trump, even as most of his Senate GOP colleagues have remained mum about the president publicly asking China and Ukraine to investigate a potential 2020 rival.

His probe into "corruption and other improprieties" tied to Ukraine comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating a whistleblower complaint tied to Trump's actions toward Ukraine. That panel's chairman, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), unlike Graham, has largely remained silent in the wake of the allegations against Trump.

House Democrats are also at the start of an impeachment inquiry centered on Trump asking the Ukrainian government to work with Giuliani to look into the Bidens and allegations that the president tried to withhold aid to Ukraine in an effort to get Kiev to launch such a probe.

Graham blasted House Democrats late Monday amid reports that they could hold a closed-door interview with the whistleblower outside of the Capitol complex or distort the person's voice or appearance over concerns that Republicans will leak the individual's identity.

"To House Democrats: Everyone in America -- including President @realDonaldTrump -- has the right to confront their accuser," Graham tweeted on Monday.

Giuliani, meanwhile, has become a key figure in the House impeachment inquiry.

House Democrats subpoenaed Giuliani late last month as part of an effort to force him to hand over documents, including text messages and phone records, regarding Hunter Biden and efforts by Giuliani or his associates to pressure current or former Ukrainian officials to investigate matters regarding the Bidens or any other American.

Giuliani also told CNN earlier this month that part of the documents handed over by the State Department inspector general to congressional staffers, and Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinWatchdog finds Architect of the Capitol was sidelined from security planning ahead of Jan. 6 Six House Democrats ask Garland to review case of lawyer placed under house arrest over Chevron suit Democrats seek to keep spotlight on Capitol siege MORE (D-Md.), originated with him.

The State Department watchdog turned over a packet of paperwork that Democrats blasted as "propaganda." The paperwork, according to staffers who attended the briefing, included theories about former Vice President BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE, his son Hunter Biden and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. 

--Alexander Bolton and Brett Samuels contributed to this report, which was updated at 12:55 p.m.