House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial, remarked that the question of witnesses might have to be resolved by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the process.
“It would certainly be fair for the president and his team to be able to call witnesses that can provide material information on the charges. It would not be appropriate for the president to seek to call witnesses” to try and criticize former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter ahead of the 2020 election, Schiff suggested to CBS News on Monday night.
“Hunter Biden, for example, can’t tell us anything about whether the president withheld military aid, whether he withheld that aid to coerce Ukraine to conduct political investigations. Or why he wouldn’t meet with the president of Ukraine,” Schiff remarked.
Schiff, who was a former prosecutor, added that the “only purpose in putting him on their list is they wish to trade material witnesses, like Mr. Bolton and Mulvaney and others for immaterial ones” such as the Bidens.
“That’s an illegitimate abuse of the trial. And the chief justice, who may have an opportunity to rule on materiality of witnesses, as well as the senators, should not permit that kind of abuse,” he added.
Hunter and Joe Biden were at the center of the impeachment inquiry as President Donald Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into allegations of corruption at a Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden had served on the board while his father was the Obama administration’s “point man” in Ukraine. Democrats allege that Trump withheld congressionally approved military aid to Kyiv in exchange for politically advantageous investigations into the Bidens, which Trump and Zelensky have both denied.
A phone call between Zelensky and Trump on July 25 became the subject of a whistleblower complaint that led to the impeachment inquiry last year. Democrats on Dec. 18 passed two articles of impeachment: Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress before handing them off to the Senate last week.
Some of Trump’s GOP allies have said Hunter Biden would be a material witness as Trump had sought an investigation into allegations of corruption during the Obama administration. Last month, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement saying they are trying to interview former White House officials during President Obama’s time in office to shed light on the allegations surrounding Hunter Biden and Burisma.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Fox News over the weekend that both Democrats and Republicans should have the chance to call their own witnesses.
“That means, if the prosecution gets a witness, the defense gets a witness,” Cruz said Sunday. “That means, if the prosecution gets to call John Bolton, then the president gets to call Hunter Biden.”
And attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is part of Trump’s legal team, told “This Week” that witnesses will delay the trial.
“The president will invoke executive privilege as to people like John Bolton. That will have to go to the court and we’ll have to have a resolution of that before the trial continues,” Dershowitz warned.