Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested he doesn’t believe former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, should be called to testify as a witness in a possible impeachment trial in the Senate, saying it would turn the process into a “circus.”
Schumer pushed back against Republicans’ desire to have Hunter Biden testify while appearing Monday on several morning news shows. His media blitz follows his letter, released a day earlier, that outlines how Democrats would like an impeachment trial against President Donald Trump to proceed, including the issuing of subpoenas for several current and former White House officials.
In his letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Schumer said Democrats would be open to hearing the testimony of “additional witnesses having direct knowledge” of the White House’s delay in releasing U.S. aid to Ukraine and its efforts to get the European country to investigate the Bidens.
Schumer, during an interview Monday with CNN’s “New Day,” was asked whether “additional witnesses” could include Hunter Biden, who served on the board of directors for Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was vice president.
“No one ― not a single person I’ve heard, even those who want Hunter Biden ― have even alleged that he has knowledge of the fact case the House is presenting,” Schumer told host John Berman.
“This shouldn’t be for Democrats to bring in their favorite conspiracy theories and for Republicans to bring in theirs,” he continued. “This is an august and solemn proceeding.”
Democrats say Trump sought foreign interference in the 2020 election by pushing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary race, and Hunter Biden.
Republicans, on the other hand, say Trump was simply asking Ukraine to investigate corruption and was justified in doing so. They claim Joe Biden, as vice president, called for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor to impede an investigation into Burisma, the company linked to Hunter Biden.
But Trump did not mention the word “corruption” during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the focal point of a whistleblower complaint and the ongoing impeachment inquiry. He specifically asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
What’s more, Biden wasn’t the only person calling for the Ukrainian prosecutor to be removed at the time. A bipartisan group in Congress as well as several world leaders and organizations were also calling for his firing. Ukrainian authorities have said there’s no evidence Joe Biden did anything wrong.
Schumer on Monday said the four witnesses Democrats want to testify ― Robert Blair, senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff; Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff; John Bolton, former national security adviser; and Michael Duffey, associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget ― all have “direct knowledge of the facts.”
“If Mitch McConnell or any other Republican says Witness ‘Y’ or Witness ‘Z’ might also have the specific knowledge as to what happened, of course I would think they should be able to testify,” Schumer told CNN.
Pressed again on whether those additional witnesses could include Hunter Biden, Schumer suggested he wouldn’t be able to answer questions related to the facts of the possible charges against Trump.
“He’s a distraction,” Schumer said of Hunter Biden. ”The American people want to know of each of us as senators, do we want all the facts to come out in this proceeding ... or do we want to be engaged in a cover-up?”
He continued: “If President Trump is so certain that he did nothing wrong, what is he afraid of? What is he hiding when he says Mulvaney or Bolton or the other two witnesses shouldn’t testify? ... I haven’t seen a scintilla of evidence that Hunter Biden would add anything other than show, circus, distraction.”
The White House has blocked several witnesses, including the four individuals Democrats seek testimonies from, from appearing before Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry.
The House Judiciary Committee voted last week to pass two articles of impeachment ― abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ― against Trump. The full House is set to vote on whether to impeach Trump this week. If they vote yes, a trial in the Senate would begin to assess whether Trump should be removed from office.
Earlier Monday, Schumer suggested Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) or other Republican senators could hold hearings related to Hunter Biden independent of the impeachment trial if they wanted.
“But don’t besmirch a very solemn proceeding,” he told NPR’s “Morning Edition.”
“The idea that [Republicans] can bring in this one for that one for political purposes who have nothing to do ― nothing to do ― with the specific facts that the House has alleged and will vote on this week is demeaning to the entire process,” he added. “And I don’t think the American people will stand for it.”