In the latest iteration of his increasingly frantic pushback against the impeachment inquiry in the House, President Trump on Thursday said investigators should call former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter to testify in the probe.
Trump tweeted a quote, attributed to Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., asking how Hunter Biden was qualified to sit on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company while his father was carrying out U.S. policy against corruption in Ukraine.
“A very good question,” Trump tweeted. “He and Sleepy Joe must testify!”
The impeachment hearings were triggered by allegations that the White House pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, a leading candidate to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.
The call for the Bidens to testify stands in contrast to the White House’s refusal to allow Trump administration officials to comply with subpoenas in the ongoing hearings.
Just this week, four administration officials, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, defied congressional subpoenas for closed-door hearings.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters their failure to appear despite subpoenas would be considered “further evidence” of obstruction. The first public hearings in the impeachment probe will be held next week.
“It was just explained to me that for next weeks Fake Hearing (trial) in the House, as they interview Never Trumpers and others, I get NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS,” Trump tweeted. “This Witch Hunt should not be allowed to proceed!”
If the House ultimately votes to impeach Trump, he will have a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, under rules established by majority vote — as a practical matter, largely in the purview of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If the Republican caucus approves, Trump’s lawyers can call their own witnesses, including the Bidens if they wish. It isn’t clear what testimony Trump believes they could provide.
Trump’s repeated calls for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens are at the center of a whistleblower’s complaint that set off the impeachment inquiry into the president. Trump had ordered the withholding of U.S. military aide to Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed to launch a public investigation into the Bidens as well as a debunked conspiracy theory advanced by the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani about the 2016 election.
There is no evidence the Bidens were involved in any corrupt dealings in Ukraine, although Hunter Biden’s acceptance of a lucrative position on the board of the Ukrainian company, Burisma, has been criticized as an example of how the families of prominent political figures take advantage of their connections.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in October, Hunter Biden said there was nothing “improper” in his business dealings, but admitted he may have showed “poor judgment.”
Hunter Biden through the years
Hunter Biden through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden speaks on stage at the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: (L-R) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Hon. Dan Glickman, and Hunter Biden attend the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden (L) and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden attend the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden and Kathleen Biden arrive at the World Food Program USA's Annual McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for World Food Program USA)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 12: WFP USA Board Chair Hunter Biden speaks during the World Food Program USA's 2016 McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at the Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Kris Connor/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Hunter Biden attends the T&C Philanthropy Summit with screening of "Generosity Of Eye" at Lincoln Center with Town & Country on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Town & Country)
US Vice President Joe Biden (C) buys an ice-cream at a shop as he tours a Hutong alley with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (R) and son Hunter Biden (L) in Beijing on December 5, 2013. Biden said on December 5 China's air zone had caused "significant apprehension" and Beijing needed to reduce Asia-Pacific tensions to protect its growing stake in regional peace and stability. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Andy Wong (Photo credit should read ANDY WONG/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - DECEMBER 04: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden waves as he walks out of Air Force Two with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (C) and son Hunter Biden (R) at the airport December 4, 2013 in Beijing, China. Biden is on the first leg of his week-long visit to Asia. (Photo by Ng Han Guan-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and World Food Program USA Board Chair Hunter Biden taking the Live Below the Line Challenge, eating and drinking on $1.50 a day to raise awareness of global hunger and World Food Programme school feeding efforts around the world, at World Food Program USA on May 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
President Barack Obama, left, Vice President Joe Biden, center, and Hunter Biden share a laugh during the first half of the NCAA basketball game between Georgetown and Duke at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., Saturday January 30, 2010. Georgetown defeated Duke, 89-77. (Photo by Chuck Myers/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 29: Hunter Biden (l) and actor Woody Harrelson pose for a photo at the after party following the 2nd Annual IMPACT Film Festival's screening of "The Messenger" at Posh on October 29, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (2R) arrives at Arlington National Cemetery with his wife Dr. Jill Biden (R), his son Hunter (L) and his daughter-in-law Kathleen for the internment services for U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy in Arlington, Virginia, August 29, 2009. Kennedy died late Tuesday after a battle with cancer. AFP PHOTO/POOL/Jim BOURG (Photo credit should read JIM BOURG/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - JANUARY 20: Vice-President Joe Biden arrives with his family, wife Jill, sons Hunter and Beau at the reviewing stand to watch the Inaugural Parade from in front of The White House January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, becoming the first African-American to be elected to the President in the US. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Hunter Biden and guest attend the Artists And Athletes Alliance red carpet event at Inaugural Honors ServiceNation, held at Cafe Milano in Georgetown January 19, 2009 Washington, DC. (Photo by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images)
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“Was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is ... a swamp in — in — in many ways? Yeah,” Hunter Biden said.