Democrats won’t negotiate calling former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden during the Senate impeachment trial in exchange for other witnesses, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said.
Nadler, 72, is one of the House impeachment managers.
“In any trial, all relevant witnesses must be heard. Whether you’re accused of robbing a bank,—testimony that I saw him rob the bank or he was somewhere else, he couldn’t have robbed the bank, is admissible. It’s not negotiable whether you have witnesses. And this whole controversy about whether there should be witnesses is just—is really a question of, does the Senate want to have a fair trial or do they—or are they part of the cover up of the President?” Nadler said during a Sunday appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“I’m saying that Hunter Biden has no knowledge of the accusations against the president,” he said after being questioned by host Margaret Brennan.
“They’re asking for Hunter Biden is just more of a smear of Hunter Biden that the President is trying to get the Ukraine to do,” Nadler added.
President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 2019 phone call to “look into” accusations of corruption surrounding the Bidens, which prompted Democrats to claim the president was asking a foreign country to probe a political rival. Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential contender, said in 2018 that while in office in 2016, he pressured Ukraine to oust a prosecutor who was probing his son’s employer, Ukraine-based Burisma Holdings.
Law professor Jonathan Turley, who testified during the impeachment inquiry, has said that Hunter Biden “would be a relevant defense witness” in a conventional trial.
“Biden’s testimony would have bearing on a key question in an abuse-of-power trial. Trump insists that he raised the issue of Hunter Biden’s relationship with a Ukrainian energy firm to the Ukrainian president as part of an overall concern he had about ongoing corruption in that country,” he wrote in a recent op-ed. “If that contract with the son of a former vice president could be shown to be a corrupt scheme to advance the interests of a foreign company or country, it might be Trump’s best defense.”
The Senate is expected to vote on Tuesday on starting the trial without addressing the matter of witnesses, based on precedent set in the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. The initial vote doesn’t preclude calling witnesses later in the process, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said.
One leading Republican said this month that he’d force a vote on calling Hunter Biden to the witness stand in the Senate impeachment trial if his colleagues support Democrat calls for former national security adviser John Bolton to testify. Another, a potential swing vote, said she wants to hear from both sides before deciding on witnesses.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he wants Bolton, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; senior adviser to Mulvaney, Robert Blair; and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget, to testify. Republicans have mentioned calling the person who filed a complaint against Trump over the call with Zelensky along with the Bidens.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) noted during an appearance on “Face the Nation” that there were 17 witnesses that gave testimony during the House impeachment inquiry.
“All of that will be available to the impeachment managers to present their case to the Senate. And then after they are through, then if the senators, fifty-one senators, want to hear more then we can vote to subpoena those witnesses,” he said.