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Odds Biden Is Put on Trial, Convicted in the Senate; Graham’s Document Request Opens Door

Joe Biden giving a speech
Joe Biden's dealings with the Ukraine are at the center of the latest document request from Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham. Photo by Gage Skidmore (flickr) [CC License].
  • President Trump wants Congress to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter for their activities in the Ukraine
  • Most view it as a distraction tactic from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump
  • But Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham has taken steps to start an investigation, potentially leading to a trial

As the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump continue in the House, POTUS is pressuring Republican lawmakers to go on the offensive and investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s dealings with the Ukraine.

Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham took the first step down that road by requesting documents pertaining to Biden and the Ukraine from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The largely agreed-upon facts are that VP Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to terminate former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Biden did this while his son Hunter was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma. Shokin’s eventual replacement (Yuriy Lutsenko) later promulgated a theory that US officials had pressured Shokin to close an investigation into Burisma because of its connection to Hunter Biden.

While none of the witnesses at the impeachment hearings have substantiated any part of Lutsenko’s allegation — and have indeed shot it down —  that didn’t stop Graham from requesting the aforementioned documents from Pompeo. How far will GOP lawmakers take this? Is a Biden investigation and ensuing trial in the Senate a likely outcome?

Odds on a Joe Biden Senate Trial

Proposition SDB’s Odds
Odds the Senate opens an official investigation into Joe Biden’s Ukraine dealings 5/6
Odds Joe Biden is put on trial in the Senate 6/1
Odds Biden is found guilty of wrongdoing pertaining to Ukraine 40/1

Odds as of Nov. 24, 2019.

Graham has not officially announced that the Senate is going to investigate Joe Biden’s Ukraine dealings. His document request certainly looks like the first step in that process, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.

With the House poised to impeach Trump — the latest odds on impeachment give it a 73.3% chance — it’s becoming more and more likely that Trump will eventually be on trial in the Senate. One of the defenses that Trump is likely going to put forward is that the Bidens had behaved inappropriately, perhaps even criminally, in their Ukraine affairs. The documents Graham requested from Pompeo may wind up forming the basis of a Trump defense as opposed to the foundation of a Biden investigation.

One outcome that appears relatively certain at this point is that Biden is not going to be found guilty of any sort of wrongdoing pertaining to the Ukraine. As mentioned above, no evidence has been put forward to substantiate the claims made by Lutsenko, and US officials present in the Ukraine during the relevant time period (such as George Kent and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman) have testified to the contrary, i.e.: no one working for the US Government ever pressured Shokin to terminate an investigation into Burisma, and Biden was advancing established US foreign policy when he requested the removal of Shokin.

That said, just because there’s no evidence that Biden did anything improper, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Graham and Senate Republicans will wind up putting him on trial. At 6/1 odds, it’s not the likely outcome (14.3% chance), but far more outlandish things happen every day during the Trump presidency.


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