Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of the most moderate members of the Democratic caucus, signaled support on Jan. 29 for calling former Vice President Joe Biden’s son as an impeachment trial witness.
Manchin was asked, during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, whether Hunter Biden is a relevant witness.
“I think so; I really do,” Manchin said. “I don’t have a problem there because this is why we are where we are.
“I think that he could clear himself, from what I know and what I’ve heard,” Manchin added. “But being afraid to put anybody who might have pertinent information [on the stand] is wrong, no matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. And not go home and say, ‘I protected one …’ No, if it’s relevant, then it should be there.”
Democratic and Republican senators are at loggerheads over whether to call witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. Democrats keep pushing for four witnesses to take the stand, including former national security adviser John Bolton. Calls for Bolton intensified this week after details from his upcoming book were leaked to media outlets.
Some Republicans are against calling witnesses, while others have suggested calling Hunter Biden, his father Joe Biden, or the person who filed the complaint against Trump regarding a July 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. At least four Republicans must vote with Democrats if witnesses are to be heard.
Trump in the call asked his counterpart to “look into” allegations of corruption against the Bidens. Hunter Biden worked for energy company Burisma Holdings as a board member from 2014 to 2019, including several years while his father was vice president. Joe Biden pressured Ukraine’s leaders to oust a top prosecutor in 2016, Biden recounted during a 2018 event.
Democrats say Trump’s request amounted to asking a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election since Joe Biden is a Democratic presidential nominee. House Democrats impeached Trump on Dec. 18, 2019, largely over the call and a hold that Trump placed on congressionally approved military aid that they assert was linked to the request for an investigation.
Republicans have increasingly argued that Hunter Biden should testify under oath and Trump’s legal team has focused on the Bidens as part of their argument against removing the president from office.
“I think at a minimum the most important witness for the Senate to hear from is Hunter Biden,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Jan. 27.
But many Democrats, including the House impeachment managers, have challenged the idea that the Bidens are relevant witnesses.
“What can Hunter Biden tell us about the president’s obstruction of Congress? Nothing obviously,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference on Jan. 28. “The bottom line is very simple, they are always looking for a shiny object to divert attention from the facts and the law against the president. It’s anything!”