Republicans Debating Whether to Call the Bidens as Witnesses in Impeachment Trial
Republican lawmakers are quietly discussing whether to call Joe and Hunter Biden as witnesses in the event of an impeachment trial in the Senate, the Washington Post reports. House Democrats passed a partisan impeachment inquiry resolution last week aimed to outline the procedures in their inquiry moving forward – an inquiry that was never officially authorized by a full House vote. While House Democrats are moving forward with the inquiry under what Republicans say is the guise of transparency, Senate Republicans are quietly preparing for the possibility of a trial in the Senate and weighing if they should call the Bidens as witnesses, if it comes to that point.
Per the Washington Post:
Among a group of Trump’s allies inside and outside Congress, there is intense and growing interest in countering the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry with their own scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings in Ukraine and China. Because his father was vice president at the time, these allies believe it could be a way of explaining why Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to “look into” the Bidens, who have denied any wrongdoing.
Democrats launched the inquiry after a so-called “whistleblower,” believed to be Eric Ciaramella, issued a complaint despite lacking firsthand knowledge of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ciaramella reportedly “interfaced about Ukraine with individuals who played key roles in facilitating the infamous anti-Trump dossier produced by Fusion GPS and reportedly financed by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee,” as Breitbart News reported.
The “whistleblower’s” concerns and subsequent reactions from mainstream media outlets and Democrats prompted the White House to release transcripts of the phone call, which Democrats claimed proved quid pro quo. They used it as a catalyst to launch an impeachment inquiry, which they had been itching to initiate but were unable to do after the Mueller report indicated that there was no collusion or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
At the crux of the phone call is Trump’s concern of the former vice president’s actions, who appeared to engage in quid pro quo himself after threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid unless Ukrainian officials stopped a prosecutor’s investigation into Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden was making $83k per month.
“I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” Biden recalled during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations last year.
“Well, son of a bitch. He got fired,” Biden triumphantly stated.
Republicans are debating whether it would be wise to use the impeachment trial, if it comes to that point, to shine a light on the corruption of the Bidens in regards to their dealings in both Ukraine and China.
According to the Post, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and John N. Kennedy (R-LA) proposed the idea. According to the report:
That effort gained steam on Capitol Hill last week at a private lunch where Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and John N. Kennedy (La.) raised the idea of summoning Hunter Biden, according to two people familiar with the exchange who, like others in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Paul took his private push public at a campaign rally with the president Monday night in Kentucky.
“I say this to my fellow colleagues in Congress, to every Republican in Washington: step up and subpoena Hunter Biden and subpoena the whistleblower!” Paul told the crowd, also referring to the unnamed intelligence official who first raised alarms about the president’s Ukraine conduct.
However, some GOP lawmakers remain skeptical.
“I think that’s a sideshow,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, according to the Post.
“[Impeachment] is a very solemn and serious constitutional process, and I just think that whatever the House decides to vote on . . . that’s what we ought to consider and not make this any more of a reality show than it’s likely to become,” he continued.
Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did not explicitly say whether he would support calling the Bidens as witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, but confirmed he would not call them to the Judiciary Committee.
“I don’t have jurisdiction over Hunter and Joe Biden, so we’re not going to call them at the Judiciary Committee,” he said, according to the Post.
“That’s just not proper. I don’t have jurisdiction and I’m an institutional guy,” he added.
While the debate rages on, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated on Tuesday that, if the trial were held today, the Senate would acquit the president.
“I will say I’m pretty sure how it’s likely to end,” McConnell told reporters. “If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question — it would not lead to a removal.”