Democrats are so afraid of Hunter Biden testifying in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump that they would rather have no impeachment witnesses than risk the country hearing his testimony. During an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Nadler said Democrats would not be willing to negotiate on witnesses for the Senate trial. In fact, he suggested that any attempts by the GOP to block or negotiate on witnesses were tantamount to a cover-up.
“Is there any circumstance in which Democrats would consider, for reciprocity, having Hunter Biden come and testify?” asked CBS’s Margaret Brennan.
“You know, the question of witnesses in any trial, in any trial, all relevant witnesses must be heard,” replied Nadler. “Whether if—if you’re accused of robbing a bank, testi—testimony that I saw him rob the bank or he was somewhere else, he couldn’t have robbed the bank, is admissible. It’s not negotiable whether you have witnesses. And this whole controversy about whether there should be witnesses is just—is really a question of does the Senate want to have a fair trial or do they—or are they part of the cover-up of the president? Any Republican senator who says there should be no witnesses or even that witnesses should be negotiated is part of the cover-up.”
After that longwinded non-answer, Brennan asked more pointedly, “So, you’re saying no way would Hunter Biden ever be called to testify?”
“Well, I’m saying that Hunter Biden has no knowledge of the accusations against the president,” Nadler replied. “Did the president, as we said—as the evidence shows that he did—betray his country by conspiring with a foreign country to—to try to rig the election? Hunter Biden has nothing to say about that. Their—their asking for Hunter Biden is just more of a smear of Hunter Biden that the president’s trying to get the Ukraine to do.”
GWU Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley believes that Nadler is suggesting that “if a trade is needed to secure House witnesses, the managers will not agree to any witnesses if Hunter Biden is part of the deal.”
“If true, is the House prepared to give up on proving its case to protect the Bidens from the ignoble moment of answering questions about the Ukraine contract? That is a considerable price to pay to protect Joe Biden,” Turley added.
What exactly is Nadler afraid of? Hunter Biden being questioned about his dealings in Ukraine, his father’s knowledge of those dealings and the White House access Burisma effectively bought by putting him on the board? Any shady dealings that could come up in testimony would undeniably prove that President Trump was justified in suggesting the Bidens deserved scrutiny. House managers would still be able to cross-examine Hunter Biden. But, Nadler is clearly worried that even if they cross-examine Hunter Biden the damage will have been done.
Republicans have been talking about having Hunter Biden testify for some time. Rand Paul has promised even to force a vote on the issue. While most Democrats oppose calling Joe Biden’s son to testify, at least one Democrat senator, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, says he’s okay with the idea.
After rushing through the House impeachment process, Democrats are now in a position where they have to clean up after Nancy Pelosi’s epic miscalculation on impeachment the best they can. Democrats had the opportunity to call more witnesses but didn’t because they wanted to impeach Trump more than anything else. Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said that no matter what happens in the Senate, that President Trump is “impeached for life.” Democrats didn’t care about the facts or witnesses or even evidence meriting a conviction; they just wanted Trump impeached to appease their base.
The Senate is expected to vote next week on whether to allow witnesses to be called or wait on that decision until a later date.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis