Joe Biden walks back his remarks about defying congressional subpoena – Business Insider

Joe Biden walks back his remarks about defying congressional subpoena – Business Insider

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Former Vice President Joe Biden walked by his earlier remarks saying he would not comply with a potential congressional subpoena during the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.”In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as [vice president], my office — unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests,” Biden said, referring to the White House’s defiance of dozens of congressional subpoenas of Trump officials.Biden previously said he “wouldn’t” testify as a witness if subpoenaed, and characterized the possibility as a Republican-led diversion “to take the focus off” of Trump.”The issue is not what I did,” Biden said to The Des Moines Register, referring to allegations that Trump withheld military aid for Ukraine to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in order to investigate Trump’s political rivals.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.Former Vice President Joe Biden walked back his earlier remarks saying he would not comply with a potential congressional subpoena during the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.Speaking to the editorial board of The Des Moines Register on Friday, the 2020 Democratic candidate initially said he “wouldn’t” testify as a witness if subpoenaed, and characterized the possibility as a diversion “to take the focus off” of Trump.”The issue is not what I did,” Biden told The Register, referring to allegations that Trump withheld military aid for Ukraine to pressure its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in order to investigate Trump’s political rivals.”This guy violated the Constitution,” Biden said of Trump, adding that news organizations were scrutinizing his family and neglecting to focus on the allegations against the US president.Biden, who has not been subpoenaed, has been targeted by Republican lawmakers who allege that he and his son, Hunter Biden, were involved in shady business dealings in Ukraine during President Barack Obama’s tenure. Both Bidens have denied any wrongdoing and no evidence has materialized.”What are you going to cover?” Biden said. “You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And he’s going to get away. You guys buy into it all the time.”Biden’s remarks were immediately criticized — even by former members of his administration. Former associate White House counsel Ian Bassin described it as a “terrible answer” and said “subpoenas aren’t optional.””You know better,” Bassin initially said on Twitter. “You should correct record and commit to complying with any lawful subpoena, reserving the right to contest it in court if you believe it to be unlawful. Let Trump tarnish the rule of law; you should defend it.”

President Donald Trump speaks at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on December 21, 2019.
Eva Marie Uzcategui T./Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

On Saturday morning, Biden walked back his comments and said he wanted to clarify his original statement to The Register. Biden suggested he would comply with a potential request from Congress, but added he would contest it in court.”In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as [vice president], my office — unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests,” Biden said on Twitter, referring to the White House’s defiance of dozens of congressional subpoenas of Trump officials.”But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial,” he added. “That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump’s conduct, not mine.Biden, like many other Democratic candidates heading into the Iowa caucuses in February, has deflected unflattering questions about himself by alleging news organizations are uncritically echoing Trump’s talking points.”No, I’m not going to let you take the eye off the ball here. Everybody knows what this is about,” Biden said in response to a question about a potential subpoena, during an NPR interview earlier in December. “This is a Trump gambit he plays. Whenever he’s in trouble he tries to find someone else to divert attention to.”Republican leaders, such as Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, requested Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina obtain the call records of the Bidens, in addition to those of House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff. Graham, who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicated he was interested in investigating the Bidens’ role in Ukraine after he requested their call records from the State Department in late November.

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