The exact manner in which President Trump’s impeachment trial will be conducted in the Senate remains unclear on Wednesday evening, the biggest question mark being whether additional witnesses will be called to testify.
But while senators debate hypothetical witnesses, an individual pushed exclusively by Trump’s closest allies does not seem to generate consensus among future jurors of the president’s party: Hunter Biden.
Several influential Senate Republicans who spoke with the Daily Beast on Wednesday do not seem to have strong feelings about hearing the son of Vice President Joe Biden on his job on the board of directors of Burisma, the company d energy Trump and his associates pressured Ukraine to investigate.
Yet Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma in 2015 and 2016 has been central to the concerns of a circle of Republicans supporting Trump since the investigation of the impeachment began.
This week, Politico reported, Republicans such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas approached the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, with a so-called “reciprocity:” proposal if the Democrats want to hear the former national security adviser John Bolton, Republicans should hear from Biden.
Not to mention the fact that Bolton, in a January 6 article on his website, volunteered to testify if the Senate Republicans had issued a summons. Hunter Biden, meanwhile, admitted in an ABC News interview that he probably got the job on the company’s board because of his last name, but denied any wrongdoing.
As the trial is about to begin, increasing the prospect of a Hunter Biden appearance may be less a reflection of a true desire among Republicans to hear his testimony – and more a reflection of a desire to put the screw on Democrats and welcome a president who may want to push for such testimony later.
A GOP lawmaker, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, suggested that Biden’s testimony would not help senators resolve the main issue raised by the trial. “I suffer from legal training and twenty years of experience as a lawyer and a judge. I see it through this framework, ”he said. “It is a matter of who has physical evidence on a disputed question of fact who is accused by the articles of indictment. For me, that’s the way I approach it. “
“I’m not saying it wouldn’t be interesting,” said Cornyn. “I am not saying he will not be called as a witness, but if he is called as a witness – I mean Bolton, for example, is called a witness – I agree with Senator Cruz and others who said it should be done in pairs, or in other words, there must be witnesses called from both sides. “
When asked if he thought the Republicans needed to hear from Biden during the trial, Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri paused for a moment before replying that he would consider whether Trump’s team would felt that way.
“I think the president deserves the right to present his case, to have his case presented,” said Blunt. “And if that includes an argument that hearing what was going on in 2016 is part of that argument, we should listen to why they would think that.”
Another, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, only spoke of Biden’s testimony in the context of the Democrats ’strategy of calling witnesses, closely related to the strategy that Cruz exposed to McConnell.
“If we’re going to have witnesses,” said Lankford, “we should be able to have both parties to be able to have witnesses.”
Although the basic trial rules have not yet been published, it is expected that the rules will provide for a vote on whether or not to call additional witnesses. Individual witnesses would then be subject to upward or downward votes, which would require a majority in the House supporting the arrival of someone like Bolton or Biden at the stand.
The idea that Biden should testify has fueled the GOP’s defense of Trump since the start of the impeachment process, as it supposedly justifies the President’s deep belief that Ukraine was corrupt and the way he acted on it. conviction by putting pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Politically, the concept is a winner for Trump advocates, diverting attention and airtime from the issue of the President’s conduct and carefully examining a potential Democratic enemy of the President.
House Republicans fully embraced it during the recall investigation, formally requesting Democrats to call Biden as a witness in their investigation. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) denied the request, saying Biden was irrelevant to the questions asked.
While he is not, some of Trump’s closest allies in the Senate are more eager to rely on him – if only to seemingly complicate the decision-making of Democrats.
“My colleagues cannot play on both counts,” tweeted Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky. “Call some, while blocking others.” If we are going to give a platform to the Dems demand witnesses, I can’t wait to force the votes to call Hunter Biden and many more!