Democrats shoot down talk of Bolton, Hunter Biden witness swap

Senate Democrats are dismissing chatter about attempts at an agreement that would guarantee former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions Russia blocks key Biden Cabinet officials from entering in retaliation for sanctions The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause MORE testifies in President TrumpDonald TrumpDC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is Biden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' Taylor Greene defends 'America First' effort, pushes back on critics MORE's impeachment trial in exchange for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSuspect in FedEx shooting used two assault rifles he bought legally: police US, China say they are 'committed' to cooperating on climate change DC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is MORE's son Hunter Biden also testifying. 

The idea has been floated by conservatives, who argue there should be "witness reciprocity." But Democrats shot down such talk, saying Trump allies are demanding an irrelevant witness in exchange for one with firsthand knowledge of Trump's actions.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform MORE (D-N.Y.), asked about a potential swap, argued that "witnesses should have something to do with and direct knowledge of the charges against the president."


"You know, we don’t need to have witnesses that have nothing to do with this that are trying to distract Americans from the truth," Schumer said.

Pressed again if he would cut a deal on witnesses, Schumer added, “right now we haven’t heard them wanting any witnesses at all.”

Asked again on Wednesday afternoon if he would be open to a deal, he replied: "That's off the table."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing MORE (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, called the former vice president's son "irrelevant and immaterial."

"This isn't like some fantasy football trade. ... This isn't we'll offer you this, if you give us that," he told reporters.

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents Lawmakers struggle with Capitol security after latest attack Democrats torn on Biden's bipartisan pledge MORE (D-Md.), asked about a potential deal during an interview with MSNBC, indicated he would not support a Biden-for-Bolton swap, calling Hunter Biden a "total sideshow."


"Focusing on Hunter Biden just furthers the entire scheme ... Trump put forward," Van Hollen said.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, said there was a discussion among some Democrats about supporting such a deal but senators quickly distanced themselves from the story.

Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues Progressives put Democrats on defense Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats MORE (D-Del.), during an interview with CNN's "New Day," said such a deal "would mean trading a relevant witness who should be testifying for a witness who has nothing to do with the charges against the president."

"There was some mistake in reporting in another news outlet that suggested somehow, I was part of a group that was trying to cut some deal ... I'm not involved in a conversation like that," he said.

Coons added in a tweet that the witnesses "have to be relevant to the case."


"It isn’t complicated. The President is on trial here, not anyone with the last name Biden. VP Biden and Hunter Biden are not relevant witnesses," he tweeted.

The idea of a swap, instead, has largely been floated by Trump, and his allies on Capitol Hill. They say they want to call Hunter Biden to testify if Democrats are able to win over the four Republican senators needed to call Bolton to testify.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyFor a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Biden to Putin: Tough sanctions, straight talk MORE (R-Utah) has said that he wants to hear from Bolton, and Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring MORE (R-Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsModerates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle MORE (R-Maine) have indicated they are open to calling witnesses though they have not specifically said they would support calling any individual.

Under the rules resolution passed by the Senate earlier Wednesday morning, senators will have an up-or-down vote on whether or not it will be in order to call witnesses or request additional documents.

If 51 senators vote to allow witnesses to be called, both sides would then be able to make motions on individuals, which would be voted on by the Senate.

Republicans, technically, would not need support from Democrats if they wanted to call Hunter Biden, who has emerged as a top target for Republicans because of his work on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. McConnell has 53 Republican votes and could call the younger Biden if he was able to hold together 51 members of his caucus.

Van Hollen floated that while the idea of a Bolton-Biden swap might be supported by some Republicans, the broader caucus does not want Hunter Biden to testify.

"We don't even know if something that they really want," he said. "There may be one or two Republicans that want that, but that's very different than Republicans wanting that."

Updated: 4:39 p.m.