Former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter Biden aren’t on trial in the Senate, but that’s done little to stop them from dominating the conversation in the Capitol.
The GOP feud with the Bidens has loomed over President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: ‘Right matters. And the truth matters.’ Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: ‘Statute of limitations’ for Biden apology is ‘up’ Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE’s impeachment trial, from the dozens of mentions by the House impeachment managers to questions being fielded by senators amid the media frenzy.
The pattern has become self-fulfilling: The more House managers mention the Bidens, the more Senate Republicans bring them up, the more Senate Democrats get asked about them as potential witnesses.
Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyThe Hill’s Morning Report – House prosecutes Trump as ‘lawless,’ ‘corrupt’ Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (R-Mo.), illustrating the loop, argued that the House managers’ repeated mentions of Hunter Biden underscored the need for him to be called as a witness.
“The House managers went into a very detailed discussion of the Burisma-Biden situation, which I think will prove to have been a major error,” Hawley told reporters. “If we’re going to call witnesses, I think it’s now clear that we absolutely must call Hunter Biden and we probably need to call Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: ‘Right matters. And the truth matters.’ Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: ‘Statute of limitations’ for Biden apology is ‘up’ Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE based on the House managers’ presentation.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman (R-S.C.) Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDemocrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Video becomes vital part of Democrats’ case against Trump Nadler plays 1999 clip of Graham defining high crimes: ‘It doesn’t even have to be a crime’ MORE also went on an unprompted five-minute rant about the Bidens, chastising reporters for not digging deeper into the family and Ukraine. Hunter Biden has emerged as a fixation for Republicans because of his work for Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.
“The thing that I wanted to talk to you about was the Biden connection. I don’t know how many times it was said by the managers that the Biden conflict of interest allegation has been debunked. …I know a lot about the Trump family and their dealings in Russia, I don’t know anything about the Biden connection to the Ukraine,” Graham said.
“That’s becoming relevant because they talked about it almost 50 times,” Graham added.
Their comments come after Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDemocrats sharpen case on second day of arguments What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats’ impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters MORE (R-Texas) told reporters on Wednesday night that Schiff’s mention of Hunter Biden made his testimony “crucial.”
“House Democrats perhaps unintentionally threw Joe Biden under the bus,” Cruz added on Thursday.
Republicans, including Cruz, have floated the idea of “witness reciprocity,” meaning that if Democrats are able to successfully call former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonSenate Republicans confident they’ll win fight on witnesses Hakeem Jeffries tells Senate in impeachment proceedings they should subpoena Baseball Hall of Fame after Jeter vote Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night ‘cover-up’ accusation MORE or another of the four witnesses they want to testify then Trump’s team should be able to call its own witness, in particular Hunter Biden.
That chatter kicked into overdrive this week when The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that the idea was being discussed among Democrats. Democrats are publicly shooting down the idea but are still routinely being asked about a witness swap both during press conferences and in hallway interviews.
“There was one report that I thought was false, and now everyone is jumping on it,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer urges declassification of letter from Pence aide No rush to judgment on Trump — it’s been ongoing since Election Day Collins walks impeachment tightrope MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters, asked about a swap.
Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft’s work on ‘war cloud’ | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill Bezos phone breach escalates fears over Saudi hacking Democrats shoot down talk of Bolton, Hunter Biden witness swap MORE (D-Del.), who was quoted in The Post article, added that he had “no conversations about that at all” about a potential Bolton for Hunter Biden swap.
The focus on the Bidens comes as House managers are laying out their arguments for convicting and removing Trump from office based on their two articles of impeachment: One on Trump abusing power in his dealings with Ukraine and another on him obstructing Congress during its investigation of those actions.
At the heart of the impeachment effort is Trump’s decision to delay Ukraine aid, which was eventually released in September, and a July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump asked him to work with his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: ‘Right matters. And the truth matters.’ Schiff tells Senate Ukraine interference conspiracy was ‘brought to you by the Kremlin’ The Hill’s Morning Report – House prosecutes Trump as ‘lawless,’ ‘corrupt’ MORE to “look into” the Bidens.
Hunter Biden worked on the board of Burisma while his father served as vice president. In 2016, Joe Biden pushed for the dismissal of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin because of concerns he was overlooking corruption in his own office.
There’s no evidence that Joe Biden was acting with his son’s interests in mind, the former vice president has denied doing so and the GOP claims have been debunked by fact checkers.
Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid GOP chairmen seek interview with Obama officials as part of Biden-Ukraine probe Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war MORE, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, told House lawmakers that Biden “was representing U.S. policy at the time.”
The Biden campaign, seeming to anticipate that the former vice president and his son would be a topic of conversation, sent out a memo earlier this week warning reporters against spreading a “malicious and conclusively debunked conspiracy theory” during the impeachment trial.
“Not only is there ‘no evidence’ for Republicans’ main argument against the Vice President — there is a mountain of evidence that actively debunks it. And it is malpractice to ignore that truth,” communications director Kate Bedingfield wrote in a memo to reporters and editors.
Asked how much they would focus Biden on their defense, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowDemocrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Video becomes vital part of Democrats’ case against Trump Democrats sharpen case on second day of arguments MORE, Trump’s personal lawyer, declined to say but that the House managers “kind of opened the door to that response.”
Some Democrats predicted that House managers were trying to get ahead of Trump’s team, which is likely to focus on the Bidens based on the legal brief the White House filed at the outset of the trial.
“I think they are preempting the arguments by the president’s counsel,” Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSanders defends vote against USMCA: ‘Not a single damn mention’ of climate change The Hill’s Morning Report — President Trump on trial Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (D-N.Y.) said, asked if they were spending too much time on the allegations. “I think that’s important, because when we receive the president’s counsels’ presentation on Saturday, we will have these rebuttals already in our minds.”
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