Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden reiterated Friday that he would not comply with a subpoena to testify in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, in a new interview with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board.
His comments come as Republicans have threatened to call Democrats – including Biden and his son, Hunter – to testify in a Senate impeachment trial after the House impeached Trump earlier this month, accusing him of abusing his power and obstructing Congress in relation to a Ukraine pressure campaign.
Biden said he wouldn’t comply with a subpoena “because it’s all designed to deal with Trump doing what he’s done his whole life – trying to take the focus off him.”
When asked if defying a congressional subpoena could create the appearance that he is above the law, Biden held that his testimony would enable the President to “get away” from the trial’s focus.
“Look, the grounds for them to call me would be overwhelmingly specious. But so I don’t anticipate that happening anyway. But what it would do – if I went, let’s say I voluntarily, just said let me go make my case, what are you going to cover?” he asked, referring to the press.
“You guys, instead of focusing on him, you’re going to cover for three weeks anything I said. And he’s going to get away.”
In a series of tweets Saturday morning, the former vice president sought to clarify his remarks.
“In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as VP, my office — unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests,” he wrote, adding: “But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial.”
“That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump’s conduct, not mine,” Biden wrote. “The subpoenas should go to witnesses with testimony to offer to Trump’s shaking down the Ukraine government — they should go to the White House.”
On the campaign trial, Biden has repeatedly lambasted Trump for asking foreign governments to investigate Biden and his son, saying the President is leading the “most corrupt administration in modern American history.”
“It’s gotten so far now, if you don’t move on it, then what do we say to the rest of the world about who we are?” Biden said in October. “What do you say about opening the gates and saying, ‘Come on in, get involved in our elections?’ What do you do?”
CNN’s Chandelis Duster and David Chalian contributed to this report.