Republicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry

Republicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE’s congressional allies and critics on Sunday doubled down on their respective positions on the impeachment inquiry as the House prepares to move into the public phase of the process.

Which witnesses should appear was a key topic after House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesEthics complaint filed against Nunes asks how he's paying for lawsuits The Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped? Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick MORE (R-Calif.) requested that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Hillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket MORE’s son Hunter Biden be called to testify. Republicans also plan to call the whistleblower whose complaint helped spark the inquiry, among others.

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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that while some of the suggested Republican witnesses would likely be called, he saw no reason to have Hunter Biden as a witness.

“He has no knowledge of what the president did or didn’t do … there are certainly questions but it isn’t relevant to this week’s hearing,” Maloney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden looks to shore up lead in S.C. The Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing MORE (D-Minn.) expressed similar sentiments, telling CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperAcosta to Trump: CNN's 'record on delivering the truth is a lot better than yours sometimes' Murphy: No concerns with Sanders on gun policy Dean says he's not worried Sanders would harm down-ballot Democratic candidates MORE, “I have seen no reason why you would have Hunter Biden testify when from all the reports we’ve seen is that this is not a valid investigation.”

Democrats also indicated they were confident in their position going into public hearings, saying the depositions that have been released of closed-door sessions show evidence of impeachable offenses. 

Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierHouse passes bill paving way for ERA ratification Abortion wars flare up in Congress House Democrats question Secret Service on payments to Trump properties MORE (D-Calif.), meanwhile, said the inquiry thus far demonstrated a “very strong case of bribery.”

“Because you have an elected official, the president, demanding action of a foreign country in this case, and providing something of value, which is the investigation, and he is withholding aid, which is that official act,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And the Constitution is very clear: treason, bribery or acts of omission. In this case, it's clearly one of those.”

And Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellRussian interference reports rock Capitol Hill California lawmakers mark Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment Chris Wallace: 'Just insane' Swalwell is talking impeaching Trump again MORE (D-Calif.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that closed-door depositions had already shown evidence of an “extortion scheme” on the part of the White House.

However, Swalwell added, “It’s important that these witnesses raise their right hands and take questions from both Republicans and Democrats. … It’s important that the Republicans are afforded the opportunity to suggest which witnesses we should call and we’ll decide whether that’s relevant.”

On the Republican side, Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 Trump to attend California fundraiser with Oracle chairman The Hill's Morning Report - Nearing witness vote, GOP rushes to acquit Trump MORE (Texas), a former CIA officer, broke with some of his colleagues by defending the whistleblower's right to anonymity.

“I think we should be protecting the identity of the whistleblower … because how we treat this whistleblower will impact whistleblowers in the future,” Hurd told Fox’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceChris Wallace 'horrified' by CNN's Acosta's conduct: 'It's not our job to one-up presidents' President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks Steyer: 'I do for sure' have to finish in top three in South Carolina MORE on “Fox News Sunday."

However, Hurd backed up Nunes’s call for Hunter Biden to testify.

“I think we should just turn over every rock and pursue every lead,” Hurd said.

“I would like to hear from Hunter Biden — I would love to hear from the other Americans who served on the board of Burisma,” he added, referencing the Ukrainian natural gas firm upon whose board the younger Biden served.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) conceded that, depending on intent, Trump’s pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens could have been “over the line.”

“Here are two possible scenarios: number one, the president asked for an investigation of a political rival, number two, the president asked for an investigation of possible corruption by someone who happens to be a political rival,” Kennedy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The latter would be in the national interest, the former would be in the president’s parochial interest, which would be over the line,” he added.