Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden responded on Wednesday to the possibility that he may be called to testify in Democrats’ impeachment efforts if impeachment moves to the Senate, saying that he has no plans to cooperate with the investigation.
Eric Ueland, White House legislative affairs director, reportedly told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that the White House wants live witnesses in a Senate trial and not taped depositions.
“The underlying impeachment rules of the Senate afford the president a full suite of rights to argue his case on the facts and on the merits,” Ueland said. “That’s why we believe quite strongly that in order to make the president’s whole case in contradiction to a partisan process which doesn’t allow him to make his full case, that we need both a full trial and the opportunity to call witnesses and work a trial over here on the Senate floor.”
“The president wants his case made fully in the Senate with a full trial and that’s a point we’re going to make consistently,” Ueland added.
At a campaign event in Iowa, Biden responded to the news, saying, “No, I’m not going to let them take their eye off the ball. The president is the one who has committed impeachable crimes, and I’m not going to let him divert from that. I’m not going to let anyone divert from that.”
Early last month, Trump called for Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, to testify, writing on Twitter: “’What did Hunter Biden do for the money?’ @SenJohnKennedy A very good question. He and Sleepy Joe must testify!”
“What did Hunter Biden do for the money?” @SenJohnKennedy A very good question. He and Sleepy Joe must testify!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2019
Democrats’ impeachment inquiry centers around a July 25 phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky where Democrats allege that Trump pressured Zelensky into opening up politically motivated investigations into Biden, something that the Trump administration strongly denies.
The part of Trump’s phone call that Democrats seized on was when he said to Zelensky, “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”
Democrats claim that the president’s actions rise to the level of a quid pro quo, or bribery, because nearly 500 words earlier in the phone call, Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”
Trump was referencing a report from The Hill in April that showed Biden in 2018 bragging about getting a Ukrainian prosecutor fired who was investigating a gas company, Burisma, that was paying his son. The Hill reported:
In his own words, with video cameras rolling, Biden described how he threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March 2016 that the Obama administration would pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, sending the former Soviet republic toward insolvency, if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.
“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,'” Biden told the audience. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.”
Despite Democrats’ claims, multiple witnesses, including Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Senior NSC official Tim Morrison, Ambassador Kurt Volker, and Ambassador Gordon Sondland have all testified that there was no quid pro quo during Trump’s call with Zelensky.
Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, who is Vice President Mike Pence’s National Security Adviser, released a statement last week stating that he was on the call and nothing improper happened:
I was on the much-reported July 25 call between President Donald Trump and President Zelensky. As an exceedingly proud member of President Trump’s Administration and as a 34-year highly experienced combat veteran who retired with the rank of Lieutenant General in the Army, I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call. I had and have no concerns.
New York Times reporter Kenneth Vogel said last week that “the message that everyone in Ukraine and Washington takes away from” Hunter Biden being on Burisma’s board was that he got the position was because he was the vice president’s son.
This report has been updated to include additional information.