Democrats have stridently argued that there need to be additional witnesses called to provide relevant testimony in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, but they may very well come to regret forcing that issue down a decidedly two-way road.
Former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), citing remarks made by former Vice President Joe Biden in 2018, explained to Fox News host Sean Hannity that both Biden and former President Barack Obama could be deemed relevant witnesses in the impeachment trial and thererfore subpoenaed to testify.
The former congressman’s remarks followed a reference by Hannity to Biden’s 2018 commentary at a Council on Foreign Relations event about how he leaned on Ukraine in 2016 and threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid if Ukraine didn’t fire its general prosecutor — who just so happened to have been investigating corrupt energy firm Burisma Holdings, on whose board Biden’s son Hunter sat.
Joe Biden explained that when Ukrainian officials initially pushed back on his demand and doubted his authority to issue it, he countered by telling the Ukrainians to call President Obama, who would tell them the same thing — fire the prosecutor or you don’t get the aid.
Gowdy said, “Well, that certainly makes him relevant as a witness. Part of impeachment is setting a precedent for what’s going to happen in the future.”
“So, if the vice president can make that assertion, then he is relevant as a witness, but so too is President Obama because I would want to know whether or not he had the authority of the president at the time he made that that pronouncement that there’ll be no loan guarantees unless the prosecutor is fired,” he continued.
Gowdy added, “So, every time that clip plays of Joe Biden, I just think of more reasons that he is relevant as a witness if the Senate wants to go that route.”
Dems opened the door
Hannity asked if, given the fact that Biden cited authority derived from Obama, that meant Obama was part of the “shakedown” of Ukraine.
Gowdy replied that it went right to the heart of the argument made by lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) that President Trump’s actions were “unprecedented,” as that would force a comparison to the actions of past presidents.
“If this is really, you know, Adam Schiff loves to say this is an unprecedented abuse of power. OK. Well, that makes what other presidents did relevant. In addition to the credibility of the assertion, it makes it relevant,” Gowdy said.
“So, if President Obama gave Joe Biden permission to condition loan guarantees on the firing of a prosecutor, then that makes both of them potentially relevant as witnesses,” he added.
To be sure, it seems highly unlikely that Obama would be subpoenaed to testify in the impeachment trial, but Gowdy just established that if Democrats really want to keep fighting for more witness testimony, things could backfire on them in rapid fashion.