Political News

Joe Biden says he won't testify in impeachment trial in exchange for Republican witnesses

Posted January 22, 2020 8:59 p.m. EST

— Former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he would not make a deal where he would testify at the impeachment trial in exchange for the testimonies of former and current top Trump officials.

"The reason why I would not make the deal, the bottom line is, I, this is a constitutional issue. And we're not going to turn it into a farce, into some kind of political theater," Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, said at an event in Osage, Iowa.

The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump is underway in Washington. Democrats allege Trump abused his office by directing a pressure campaign for Ukraine to announce an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter, in exchange for $400 million in US security aid and a White House meeting. Trump, Democrats say, then stonewalled congressional investigators to cover up the misconduct.

A voter asked Biden at the event in Iowa if the former vice president had considered agreeing to testify in exchange for procuring testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"Have you ever thought of just calling (the Republicans') bluff, and maybe even you and your son (testify)? And that might just take the gas right out of them," Steve Delgado, a voter who said he had driven to Iowa from Arizona, asked Biden.

Biden responded, "I don't think they've got much gas in the tank to begin with."

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Senate Democrats are privately discussing having Hunter Biden testify in exchange for the testimony of a key administration official in the impeachment trial.

Biden dismissed the Post's report at an event earlier in the day in Mason City, Iowa.

"No, they're not," Biden said repeatedly when asked about this possible discussion.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, told reporters Wednesday that trading Hunter Biden to get Bolton to testify was "off the table." House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who's the lead House impeachment manager in the trial, also panned the idea of a witness swap ahead of opening arguments on Wednesday, saying, "This isn't a fantasy football trade."

Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his Republican allies have used Hunter Biden's foreign business ties to characterize the Bidens as corrupt, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden in Ukraine. Trump and congressional Republicans criticized House Democrats for not allowing Hunter Biden to be called as a witness during the House impeachment hearings.

Biden defended his son and said Wednesday, "There's nobody that's indicated there's a single solitary thing he did that was inappropriate, wrong ... other than the appearance. It looked bad because he was there. He did not sign up for a second term on that board. But he acknowledges, he acknowledges that he in fact made a mistake going on the board."

Hunter Biden was paid about $50,000 for serving on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, according to The New York Times. He told ABC News in October that he had done "nothing wrong at all" but that he had used "poor judgment" in serving on the company's board because it has become a political liability for his father.

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