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Republicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry

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

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short 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 NunesCNN reporter's phone and email records secretly obtained by Trump administration: report Hillicon Valley: Colonial Pipeline CEO says company paid hackers .4 million in ransomware attack | Facebook sets up 'special operations center' for content on Israeli-Palestinian conflict | Granholm expresses openness to pipeline cyber standards after Peter Thiel, J.D. Vance investing in YouTube alternative popular among conservatives MORE (R-Calif.) requested that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting 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 KlobucharDemocrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Minn.) expressed similar sentiments, telling CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperMississippi governor: Biden goal of 70 percent of US vaccinated by July 4 is 'arbitrary' Energy secretary: Adversaries have capability of shutting down US power grid King: 'There has to be trust' between government, companies following cyberattacks 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 SpeierDemocrats call on Blinken to set new sexual misconduct policies at State Department House lawmakers unveil bill to end ban on Postal Service shipments of alcohol Push to combat sexual assault in military reaches turning point 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 SwalwellEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report DOJ to probe Trump-era subpoenas of lawmaker records The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Sights and sounds from Biden's UK visit 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 HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel 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) WallaceSunday shows - Biden foreign policy in focus Pompeo defends Trump on Russia in Chris Wallace interview Lewandowski says Trump has not spoken to him about being reinstated 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.