Trump re-ups calls for Biden, Schiff testimony at impeachment trial

By Quint Forgey

President Donald Trump on Thursday renewed his push for political rivals including former Vice President Joe Biden and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff to testify at his looming Senate impeachment trial — breaking with Republicans in the chamber who have been reluctant to support calling witnesses ahead of the highly anticipated proceedings.

“I’m going to leave it to the Senate, but I’d like to hear the whistleblower, I’d like to hear ‘shifty’ Schiff, I’d like to hear Hunter Biden and Joe Biden,” Trump told reporters at a White House event.

The president’s remarks come after Trump huddled privately Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the White House, a source familiar with the conversation confirmed, in a meeting first reported by CNN. McConnell on Tuesday secured sufficient backing from his GOP caucus to approve a framework of rules governing a trial without Democratic support.

The Republican blueprint, which mirrors that of President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial, ignores Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s demands for witnesses and new evidence at the trial’s outset. Instead, it would leave the question of seeking witnesses and documents until after opening arguments are made.

Trump added Thursday that if lawmakers eventually strike a deal to bring Democratic and Republican witnesses before the Senate, “I would like to have those people, plus others, testify because it’s the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the United States government.”

But the president was less enthusiastic regarding a potential appearance by his former national security adviser John Bolton, who announced in a statement earlier this week that he is “prepared to testify” in the trial should the Senate issue him a subpoena.

“Always got along with him. He didn’t get along with some of our people, but that’s really going to be up to the Senate,” Trump said, repeatedly emphasizing the need to “protect presidential privilege.”

“When we start allowing national security advisers to just go up and say whatever they want to say, we can’t do that,” he continued, adding: “People can’t go up and say whatever my thoughts are, whatever your thoughts are about us, countries, views. You don’t want that to be out.”

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.