Graham says he'll invite Giuliani to testify about Ukraine

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE (R-S.C.) said on Tuesday that he will invite President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOvernight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Democrats say they have game changer on impeachment READ: Diplomat describes pressure put on Ukraine to open 'investigations' 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.
 
 
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 Anthony BookerProgressive commentator: Voters becoming weary of Warren policy proposals Saagar Enjeti: Warren, Buttigieg don't stand a chance against Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump faces backlash for comparing impeachment to 'lynching' MORE (N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSaagar Enjeti: Warren, Buttigieg don't stand a chance against Trump Warren overtakes Sanders in new poll The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump faces backlash for comparing impeachment to 'lynching' MORE (Calif.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg would support delaying Libra | More attorneys general join Facebook probe | Defense chief recuses from 'war cloud' contract | Senate GOP blocks two election security bills | FTC brings case against 'stalking' app developer Senate Republicans block two election security bills Warren overtakes Sanders in new poll 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 FeinsteinSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' Khashoggi fiancée meets with lawmakers seeking 'justice and accountability' for his slaying Schiff should consider using RICO framework to organize impeachment 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 RaskinEx-Trump aide on Russia testifies for 10 hours as part of impeachment inquiry Oversight panel to subpoena Trump officials next week over deportation deferrals Democrats plow ahead as Trump seeks to hobble impeachment effort 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 Biden, 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.