Trump impeachment: Biden says proposed witness trade would turn trial into 'farce'
'We’re not going to turn it into a farce, into some kind of political theatre'
Joe Biden has denounced the notion of providing testimony in Donald Trump's impeachment trial in exchange for key witnesses, calling the move a "farce" and saying it would turn the process into "political theatre".
Speaking at a campaign stop in Iowa during the first day of opening arguments in the US Senate’s impeachment trial, the former vice president told voters: "The reason why I would not make the deal — the bottom line is this is a constitutional issue.”
“We’re not going to turn it into a farce, into some kind of political theatre”, he added.
The comments came after several reports indicated Democratic senators had privately considered the idea of swapping Mr Biden’s testimony for witnesses who possess first-hand knowledge about the president's dealings with Ukraine.
The 2020 Democratic hopeful, who found himself at the heart of the impeachment trial into Mr Trump after the president encouraged Ukraine to launch political investigations into the Biden family, said on Wednesday that Republicans were “trying to turn it into political theatre” and added: “I want no part of being any part of that.”
“I have no problem, as you’ll find out the rest of this campaign, debating Trump, debating the majority leader, debating Lindsey Graham, debating any of these guys,” he continued. “I don’t have any problem.”
Democratic leaders also shot down the idea of exchanging Mr Biden’s testimony for witnesses who they have long said would reveal the president was seeking political investigations into Mr Biden to undermine the former vice president’s candidacy and aid in his re-election efforts.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, the lead Democratic impeachment manager from the US House of Representatives, said: “This isn’t like some fantasy football trade.”
He added: “Trials aren’t trades for witnesses.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer previously told reporters “I think that’s off the table” when asked about the potential witness exchange.
“First of all the Republicans have the right to bring in any witness they want,” Mr Schumer added. “They haven’t wanted to and that trade is not on the table.”
The impeachment inquiry was first sparked after an anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint about the president’s 25 July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Mr Trump asked his counterpart to “do us a favour” before encouraging him to launch the political investigations.
Mr Trump has claimed his phone call with the Ukrainian president was “perfect”, repeatedly urging Americans to “read the transcript”, referring to the partial transcript the White House released of his call after news of the whistleblower report was leaked to the media.