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Schiff: Justice Roberts should rule on relevance of Hunter Biden testimony

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Sunday that Chief Justice John Roberts should rule on the relevance of Hunter Biden's testimony if he is called at President Trump's impeachment trial.

Schiff's remarks on NBC's Meet the Press come just days before a decision is expected on the pivotal issue of whether new witnesses and documents will be admitted at the Senate trial.

"We have a very capable justice sitting right behind me who can make decisions about the materiality of witnesses," said Schiff, the lead House manager. "We trust the Supreme Court chief justice to make those decisions."

The relevance of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter at trial has been the subject of intense partisan fighting.

Republicans allege that a corrupt scheme involving the Bidens' dealings in Ukraine factored into Trump's pursuit of an official Ukrainian investigation into the former vice president and his son.

When Joe Biden was vice president in 2016 he helped to orchestrate the ouster of Ukraine's top prosecutor while Hunter Biden served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. The company's owner has faced accusations of money laundering, fraud and tax evasion.

At the time, Joe Biden's effort to remove the prosecutor was in line with the official U.S. anti-corruption stance in Ukraine. The move was also backed by Western leaders and major international institutions, as well as Ukrainian government watchdog groups who saw the prosecutor as corrupt.

Democrats say the accusations against the Bidens are baseless and designed to deflect attention from Trump's wrongdoing at the center of the impeachment.

The first of two impeachment articles against Trump accuses him of abuse of power, concerning the withholding of nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine last year amid efforts to push the country to launch investigations into Trump's political rivals.

Schiff on Sunday reiterated his belief that Senate Republicans' interest in Hunter Biden's testimony is a pretext to "smear" Trump's opponent.

"Hunter Biden can't tell us anything about the withholding of the military funding," Schiff said. "Hunter Biden can't tell us why the president wouldn't let the (Ukrainian) president into the Oval Office."

Schiff has previously said Roberts should be called on if Trump asserts executive privilege over witnesses subpoenaed by Democrats in the impeachment proceedings.

 

Roberts, who is constitutionally obligated to preside over the trial, has the authority to rule on all questions of evidence under the Senate impeachment rules.

However, a single senator can appeal the ruling. That would trigger a vote in the Senate, where a simple majority would overturn Roberts.

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