Graham Says He Is Seeking Transcripts of Biden Phone Calls With Ukraine Leader

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
November 21, 2019Updated: November 21, 2019

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he is trying to obtain transcripts of phone calls between then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko from about a month before the firing of a top Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the head of natural gas company Burisma Holdings.

Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Nov. 20 that he plans to send a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the transcripts or other records of conversations between Biden and Poroshenko in February 2016.

“I want to know if there’s any transcript or readouts of the phone calls between the vice president and the president of the Ukraine in February after the raid on the gas company president’s house,” Graham said.

“After this raid, Hunter Biden kicks in. Hunter Biden’s business partner meets with [then-Secretary of State] John Kerry, and Vice President Biden on three occasions makes a phone call to the president of Ukraine and goes over there in March and they fire the guy, and this is the same man that the ambassador wanted to be investigated in 2015.”

President Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have repeatedly raised concerns about Biden’s alleged dealings with Ukraine. During the 2018 Council of Foreign Relations Discussion meeting, Biden bragged about successfully forcing Poroshenko in 2016 to terminate Ukraine’s top prosecutor Viktor Shokin by withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid to the troubled country.

Shokin was in charge of investigating Burisma Holdings’ owner Mykola Zlochevsky at the time that Biden’s son Hunter Biden held a lucrative board position in the company.

The Hill reported in April that U.S. banking records indicated Hunter’s U.S.-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, typically amounting to more than $166,000 a month. The period in question is when Joe Biden was the U.S. official dealing with Ukraine.

Graham told Hannity that he found it “odd” that instead of praising Shokin for going after Zlochevsky, who was described as the “dirtiest guy in the Ukraine” by the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Shokin was instead fired from his role.

“Did it have anything to do with the fact that Hunter Biden was on his board?” Graham asked.

Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to look into the Bidens regarding their dealings in the country are at the center of the Democrat-run impeachment inquiry. During a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Trump asked Zelensky to look into Crowdstrike, a firm that investigated a breach into the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems, and allegations of corruption by Joe Biden.

House Democrats have accused the president of leveraging his office and withholding U.S. aid to Ukraine to obtain “dirt” on a political opponent in an attempt to boost his reelection chances. But Trump has defended his request for Ukraine’s assistance to look into Biden’s dealings, saying that it was intended to investigate the alleged corruption.

A transcript of the July 25 call, released by the White House, shows no apparent pressure or quid pro quo by Trump on the call.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.