A scene from outside the Senate chamber shortly before the start of today’s impeachment session. He’s right that the Bidens aren’t above being investigated, particularly given Burisma’s seemingly inexplicable interest in Hunter. We’re five months into the Ukraine saga and no one on either side has yet been able to advance a theory by which Hunter Biden deserved to sit on Burisma’s board.
Even the most innocuous explanation, that Burisma wanted the Biden name attached to the company as a matter of pure prestige rather than as a conduit to the White House, is a form of petty corruption. Hunter was trading on dad’s public office for personal gain, as so many ruling-class spawn do.
Two ironies to Graham making this impassioned plea to investigate the Bidens, though:
1. Graham himself doesn’t want to put Hunter on the stand. He’s firmly in the “no witnesses” camp within the GOP caucus, claiming that the Democratic case is thin and that the country shouldn’t be put through one extra unnecessary minute of a process as wrenching as impeachment. Even though, let’s be honest, it hasn’t been that wrenching. The big complaint about the trial thus far isn’t that Americans are at each other’s throats about it, it’s that it’s dull and that they’ve largely tuned it out in the knowledge that the verdict is assured. If anything, Graham’s anxiety about witnesses like John Bolton has to do with the fact that his testimony might unite Americans a bit in favor of removal. Better to just speed through it and move on.
2. Graham himself took a beating late last year by TrumpWorld for not being more interested in investigating the Bidens. He’s the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He has the power to look into Burisma. He held off, claiming that foreign affairs aren’t really a proper subject for Judiciary, but that was an unpersuasive argument for MAGA-ites who are counting on him to be a loyal crony for the president. Eventually his arm was twisted to the point where he agreed to review documents related to the Bidens and Burisma. Now he’s here in front of reporters demanding that some authority somewhere give the Bidens’ conduct towards Ukraine the same close scrutiny that it would have received if the Burisma matter had involved the Trumps — when it’s within his power to do so.
And within the broader Senate GOP’s power to do so, of course. An obvious reply to Graham’s frustration that no one has deemed Burisma worth investigating is that the GOP controlled government for two years after all of these Biden-related alleged shenanigans towards Ukraine had already happened. It wasn’t a secret that Hunter was on Burisma’s board. Why didn’t Republican committees dig in? Why did interest peak only in 2019, after Joe Biden entered the race?
Fighting corruption and draining the swamp has to matter outside the narrow confines of a presidential election, right?
By the way, via FiveThirtyEight, Republican voters are coming around to Graham’s position that witnesses shouldn’t be called at the trial. Until recently GOP support for doing so had been surprisingly strong, with pluralities of Republicans in some polls saying they agreed with Democrats about hearing more evidence (including evidence about the Bidens, of course). But ever since Trump backed off his demands for a robust defense and swung around to the McConnell/Graham “wrap it up quickly” position, opinion has changed.
In late December, 65 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Republicans supported bringing in new witnesses. But now the share of Democrats who want new witnesses has risen to 74 percent, while the share of Republicans who say the same has fallen to 41 percent.
Republican voters’ swift change of heart on this issue could make it politically easier for Senate Republicans to vote against calling new witnesses, which remains one of the big open questions in the trial. Moderate senators like Maine’s Susan Collins may still feel pressure to support bringing in new witnesses, but increasingly, rank-and-file Republicans seem to be just fine with a rapid trial that includes no new evidence or testimony.
Two clips of Graham here for you, both from the same gaggle in the Capitol. He’s pretty animated in the second.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 23, 2020