Joe Biden subpoena

Biden Slams the Media, Refuses to Comply With Congress, Says He Alone Can Fix America

Joe Biden on Saturday performed a defiant walk-back of his claim he would not comply with a Senate subpoena in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. 

Asked about the controversial assertion during a presidential campaign event in Tipton, Iowa, Biden told reporters he had “no first-hand knowledge” of the events related to Trump’s impeachment. So, he said, “there would be no basis upon which to call me as a witness.”

However, the Democrat declined to say whether he might challenge the theoretical congressional subpoena in court.

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“I don’t think that’s going to happen. I would in fact abide by whatever was legally required of me. I always have,” he said. “I would honor whatever the Congress in fact legitimately asked me to do.”

Biden seemed to suggest he would not view being subpoenaed in the impeachment trial legitimate. But an event in Fairfield later in the day, Biden told an audience that he would “obey any subpoena that was sent to me,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

“I alone can fix it”

Biden, a former vice president and senator, was similarly equivocal in a series of tweets Saturday that he said were meant to “clarify” his position.

“In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as VP, my office — unlike Donald Trump and [Vice President] Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests,” he said.

“But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial. That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump’s conduct, not mine.”

Biden said the Senate should subpoena witnesses who could testify to “Trump’s shaking down the Ukraine government — they should go to the White House.”

“Our democracy is in trouble. We’re at the breaking point. And we need a president who will rise above the personal attacks and reach out to unite this nation,” he later added, apparently referring to himself. “If we come together and act as one America, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.”

Biden has criticized as dictatorial Trump’s famous claim during the 2016 presidential campaign, “I alone can fix it.”

He has also said Trump should be impeached, in part, for “shooting holes in the Constitution.” Earlier this month, he tweeted that “no one is above the law — not even the President.”

Why Joe Biden said no to a subpoena

Biden’s subpoena controversy started Friday when, in an interview with the Des Moines Register, he repeatedly said he would refuse to to appear at the Senate impeachment trial because it would be a tactic by Trump to distract from the president’s wrongdoing.

“Doesn’t that position you as if you’re defying a subpoena – putting yourself above the law?” asked Carol Hunter, the Register’s Executive Editor Carol Hunter.

Biden responded with another of Trump’s go-to moves: shaming the press.

“What are you going to cover?” he said. “You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And [Trump’s] going to get away. You guys buy into it all the time. Not a joke. Think about it. As we say in my church, examine your conscience.”

Some legal experts and commentators criticized Biden for his remarks to the Iowa newspaper, noting that the White House’s refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas was part of the reason why Trump had been impeached.

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Trump was impeached on Dec. 18 by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on two charges over his pressuring Ukraine to announce an investigation of Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The House has yet to send the articles of impeachment — for abuse of power and obstructing Congress’ investigation — to the Senate, where the Republican majority is expected to acquit Trump.

The president has said he did nothing wrong.

The Trump factor?

Biden has earned unfavorable comparisons to Trump before, including for taunting political opponents and failing to meet contemporary feminist standards. When Biden announced his presidential bid in April, he promised “America is coming back like we used to be,” prompting some conservatives to ridicule him for sounding like a knockoff of the president.

However, compared Trump, Biden has proved relatively willing to back down under public pressure.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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