President Donald Trump said Thursday that he wouldn’t mind a deal in the Senate for witnesses to be called during his impeachment trial if it meant that his defense could also call people to testify, including Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
"I’m going to leave it to the Senate, but I’d like to hear from the whistleblower, I’d like to hear from shifty Schiff, I’d like to hear from Hunter Biden and Joe Biden," Trump told reporters following a White House event about building and infrastructure regulations.
Republicans have called on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. — "Shifty Schiff" to the president — to testify about the report he prepared that made the case for Congress to impeach the president.
"The whistleblower" is the anonymous CIA staffer who in August filed a complaint about Trump's phone call in July with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to look into why that country's top prosecutor apparently had ended an investigation into the business dealings of Hunter Biden. The call and the complaint were at the center of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
When asked whether he’d object to his former national security adviser John Bolton testifying in a Senate trial, Trump said that it would be up to the Senate, but that protecting executive privilege was critical. Bolton, a key figure in the impeachment saga who did not testify during the House inquiry, said earlier this week he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.
"That’s really going to be up to the Senate," Trump said. "I'd have to ask the lawyers because we do have to, to me, for the future, we have to protect presidential privilege. When we start allowing national security advisers to just go up and say whatever they want to say, we can't do that."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said this week that he had enough Republican votes to start Trump’s impeachment trial without the support of Democrats, who have been demanding witness testimony. But the announcement didn’t settle the issue of whether witnesses will be allowed to testify during the Senate trial; it just postponed a vote on the issue until later in the trial.
Senate Democrats have said they want to call new witnesses, including Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.