Questions About Hunter Biden Testimony Loom Over Senate Impeachment Trial

January 19, 2020 Updated: January 20, 2020
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Two days before the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, a question on whether witnesses will be called to testify remains unresolved. Perhaps the most talked-out potential witness is former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told CNN on Sunday that he would be “fine” with hearing from Hunter Biden, who had received a high-paying board position on Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings while his father was in office. Republicans have said Biden’s seat on the board raises questions because he doesn’t speak Ukrainian and has no experience in the industry.

“Fine. We take the position that we want to hear from witnesses. I don’t know what Hunter Biden has to do with the phone call that was made,” he said on “State of the Union.”

Brown was referring to the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked his counterpart to “look into” circumstances surrounding potential corruption involving the Bidens and Burisma Holdings.

“I’m fine with hearing—I mean, I’m not a lawyer. I understand both sides get to call witnesses,” he added. “I think many Republicans think that’s a distraction,” he continued.

Another Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), said she isn’t opposed to GOP senators calling either Hunter or Joe Biden.

Waters told MSNBC on Sunday: “They can call whomever they want to call. We know should they call Biden, they’re attempting to distract attention away from what the president is accused of.”

Last year, amid the impeachment inquiry, the younger Biden defended his work in Ukraine but admitted that it could have been perceived as a conflict of interest.

“I think that it was poor judgment on my part. I think that it was poor judgment because I don’t believe now when I look back on it—I know that there was—did nothing wrong at all,” Hunter Biden told ABC News in mid-October. “I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father. That’s where I made the mistake,” Biden said. “So I take full responsibility for that. Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever.”

Democrats and Republicans clash over whether to allow witnesses to be interviewed in the Senate as part of the trial. On the Democratic side, lawmakers have sought to obtain testimony from White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, who had signaled that he would testify if he were subpoenaed. Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and the whistleblower at the center of the inquiry have been potential witnesses sought by Republicans.

On Sunday, Republicans in the Senate echoed the calls for Biden to take the stand.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Fox News on Sunday that Democrats “are terrified about seeing a witness like Hunter Biden testify because they don’t want to hear evidence of actual corruption.”

“Here’s the thing: Fair is fair. If they’re going to put the president through this, they’re going to have to have witnesses on both sides,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News on Thursday. “No young man who is the son of a politician gets $50,000 a month who has no experience working for a Ukrainian oligarch. You know, for goodness sakes—it smells to high heaven. It smells like corruption.”