Lindsey Graham changes his tune on Joe Biden, urges State document release

Sen. Graham on Joe Biden's debate performance
Sen. Graham on Joe Biden's debate performance... 00:53

Last Updated Nov 22, 2019 3:28 PM EST

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham appears to be changing his tune on his longtime friend former Vice President Joe Biden as he pushes ahead with his own probe of Biden's dealings with Ukraine. In a new letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Senate Judiciary chair requested documents related to contacts between Vice President Biden, his son Hunter Biden, other Obama administration officials and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. 

Specifically, Graham is requesting:

  • All documents and communications, including call transcripts or summaries, related to the Vice President's phone calls with President Poroshenko on February 11, 18, and 19 and March 22 of 2016, especially with respect to whether Vice President Biden mentioned the Prosecutor General's investigation into Burisma.
  • All documents and communications between the Vice President and his office and President Poroshenko and his office after the raid on Mr. Zlochevsky's home on February 2, 2016, until the dismissal of the Prosecutor General on March 29, 2016.
  • All documents and communications related to a meeting between Devon Archer, a business partner of Hunter Biden, and Secretary of State John Kerry on March 2, 2016.

While it's not immediately clear if the State Department will comply with Graham's requests, it's part of a full press toward defending President Trump amid the ongoing impeachment probe into a quid pro quo arrangement to carry out investigations of Biden and Burisma -- Ukrainian energy company which Hunter Biden sits on the board of -- as well as Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 election. 

In response to the new scrutiny, Biden told CNN Friday that he was "disappointed" and "angered" by Graham's probe.

"He knows me, he knows my son, he knows there's nothing to this," Biden said. "Lindsey, I'm just embarrassed by what you're doing."

He added, "Lindsey is about to go down in a way that I think he's going to regret his whole life," later suggesting Graham faces a "tough road" to re-election should he come out against the president, effectively "holding power" over the senator. 

As the first phase of the public impeachment probe came to a close Thursday after two weeks of witness testimony, the noted Trump ally decried the House impeachment inquiry into Trump as "a joke"  but said it is "a war worth fighting."

But Graham's about face on Biden and his connections to Ukraine comes as a bit of a surprise as the Republican has frequently gone to bat for his former Senate colleague. During several of his most recent appearances on CBS News' "Face the Nation", Graham has described Biden as "honorable" and a "good man."

"He's a good man. I like him a lot. I disagree with him on policy. But I hope he doesn't apologize for the life he's led because he's led a good life," Graham said back in April. 

He followed up in June: "I think you will underestimate Joe Biden at your own peril."

Graham also notably suggested on "Face the Nation" in September that he would not want to be the one carrying out a probe of Biden and his connection to the Trump impeachment saga, telling moderator Margaret Brennan,"A lot of Republicans don't believe the New Yorker and the political fact-checkers are really as adequate substitute...due to Joe Biden's scenario, what you did for Trump, find somebody, not me, outside of politics to look and see if it makes sense."

He added, "I love Joe Biden as a person, but we cannot give Democrats a pass and go after Republicans."

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    Emily Tillett is the digital producer at "Face the Nation"