House Republicans want Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistleblower who helped launch the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump to be among the witnesses who testify at public impeachment hearings.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, listed requested witnesses in a letter Saturday to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the committee's chairman.
The letter, which comes days before the first public impeachment hearings are set to begin after weeks of closed-door testimony, also slams the inquiry as "purely political" and says that the minority party should be able to call their own witnesses, as in traditional congressional hearings, rather than suggest a witness list to the majority party running the hearings.
"Americans see through this sham impeachment process," Nunes said in the letter.
Nunes lists eight requested witnesses plus "all individuals" who helped the anonymous whistleblower draft his or her complaint.
His request follows a letter from Schiff to Nunes earlier this week that invited Republicans to identify witnesses they want to testify, but emphasized that each request must be relevant to the impeachment inquiry.
A key name on the GOP witness-request list is Hunter Biden — the son of former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden — whose business dealings in Ukraine were at the center of Trump's efforts to have that country launch an investigation of his political rival.
Schiff sent a letter back to Nunes earlier Saturday evening, and effectively poured cold water on the request, saying the committee's investigation “will not serve as vehicles for any Member to carry out the same sham investigations into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his person political benefit.”
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., who is part of the Democratic leadership as chief deputy whip, doubted the possibility of Hunter Biden's being called as a witness.
"This is a debunked bogus notion that somehow Hunter Biden was under investigation — he was not," Kildee said on MSNBC. "That’s been very clear. They don’t want to deal with the facts surrounding the president’s behavior," he said of House Republicans.
Also on the GOP's list of requested witnesses is Devon Archer, a longtime business associate of Hunter Biden's, together with the anonymous whistleblower whose allegations regarding the president's dealings with Ukraine sparked the impeachment inquiry.
The whistleblower alleged in a complaint that in a July 25 phone call, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden as well as a 2016 election conspiracy theory.
Trump and his supporters have demanded that the identity of the whistleblower be revealed and that the person testify in an open hearing. Schiff's letter calls proposed whistleblower testimony "redundant and unnecessary,” given the evidence the committees have already gathered and reiterates the importance of protecting the whistleblower’s identity.
The whistleblower's lawyer wrote a letter to the White House counsel this week demanding that the president cease and desist from attacking his client, saying it amounts to witness tampering.
The letter from attorney Andrew Bakaj said the whistleblower had been in talks to give a closed-door deposition to the House Intelligence Committee, but that "as a direct consequence of the president’s irresponsible rhetoric and behavior, my client’s physical safety became a significant concern, prompting us to instead state our willingness to only answer written interrogatories."