Biden Reiterates He Would Not Comply With Senate Subpoena in Impeachment Trial

December 28, 2019 Updated: December 28, 2019
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Former Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday that he would not comply with a subpoena to testify before the Senate in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

Biden told Des Moines Register’s executive editor Carol Hunter in an interview that he thinks to comply with the subpoena would “take the focus off” Trump, adding that it was the president’s tactic to divert attention away from himself and the allegations against him.

“Think what it’s about. It’s all about what he does all the time, his entire career. Take the focus off,” Biden said. “This guy violated the Constitution. He said it in the driveway of the White House. He acknowledged he asked for help.”

Hunter asked him during the interview whether he thinks defying a subpoena would mean that he is putting himself above the law. The 2020 Democratic frontrunner replied saying that the grounds for the Senate to subpoena him would be “overwhelmingly specious.”

He added that even if he voluntarily testified to clarify the situation, that would instead create a media narrative that would keep Trump from the spotlight.

“What are you going to cover?” Biden said. “You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And he’s going to get away. You guys buy into it all the time. Not a joke.”

Biden’s comments on Friday confirms a statement he made during an interview with NPR in early December that he would not comply if he was subpoenaed to testify before the Senate. Trump and his allies previously suggested having Biden as one of the witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial.

On Saturday morning, Biden attempted to clarify his position on complying with congressional subpoenas on Twitter, saying that he had always complied with a lawful order during his 40 years in public life.

“I want to clarify something I said yesterday. In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as VP, my office—unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence—cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests,” Biden wrote in his post.

“But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial. That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump’s conduct, not mine.”

The House impeached Trump earlier this month on charges of “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” related to his dealings with Ukraine. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying that she is unsure about the upper chamber’s trial process. Her decision to withhold the articles of impeachment has drawn criticism from Trump and Republicans.

House Democrats have accused the president of leveraging his office and withholding U.S. aid to Ukraine to obtain “dirt” on a political opponent, specifically Biden.

Meanwhile, Trump has maintained that his request for Ukraine’s assistance to look into Biden’s dealings in Ukraine was intended to investigate the alleged corruption. In 2018, Biden boasted that he had pressured then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to remove a prosecutor who was investigating a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, where the former vice president’s son held a lucrative board position.

Biden has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan