WASHINGTON — The US Republican party on Saturday fought back against an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump by calling for the son of his main rival Joe Biden to be called as a witness.
Trump has accused the Bidens of unspecified corruption due to Hunter Biden’s role as a director of Ukraine energy company Burisma when Joe Biden — now a leading candidate to challenge Trump in the 2020 election — was vice president.
Devin Nunes, the senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, which is holding impeachment hearings, said Burisma reportedly paid Hunter Biden $50,000 a month to sit on its board.
Hunter Biden’s “firsthand experiences with Burisma can assist the American public in understanding the nature and extent of Ukraine’s pervasive corruption,” Nunes wrote.
House Republicans came forward Saturday with a list of eight witnesses they want the House Intelligence Committee to hear from in the public hearings set to start this coming week. Among them were Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistleblower who raised the alarm about a conversation Trump held with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July where he is heard pressing the Ukrainian leader for political favor. The call is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry against the president.
Trump has dismissed all allegations of misconduct.
Nunes said testimony from Hunter Biden and the whistleblower would boost transparency in an “opaque and unfair process.”
Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, must approve witness requests submitted by Republicans.
Democratic lawmaker Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment probe, said the Intelligence Committee would “give due consideration to witnesses within the scope of the impeachment inquiry.”
But he vowed the inquiry would not be “a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens… that the president pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”
The Democrats are aiming to make Trump only the third president in US history to be impeached, which would see him go on trial for removal in the Republican-dominated Senate.
Trump has defended the July phone call with Zelensky, despite the rough transcript released by the White House appearing to support the allegations against him.
More than a dozen witnesses so far appear to have also broadly backed the Democrats’ allegations, which include a charge that Trump held up military aid for Ukraine to force it to investigate the Bidens.
Investigators in the inquiry on Friday released hundreds of pages of testimony from Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council. Both testified they were concerned Trump was inappropriately pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
The impeachment hearings have been held behind closed doors but will be held in public starting next week.
Schiff said three State Department witnesses will appear in two hearings Wednesday and Friday: the US ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, career department official George Kent, and Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch was ousted in May on Trump’s orders and Taylor replaced her; both have testified about their concerns with the administration’s policy on Ukraine
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