- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2019

House Republicans on Saturday called for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s son Hunter to testify in the impeachment inquiry’s open hearings that begin next week.

The move would shed light on the issue at the center of the House Democrats’ impeachment case: that President Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate the Bidens for alleged corruption involving the country’s graft-riddled energy industry.

Testimony from Hunter Biden and others involved in Ukraine would “provide transparency to your otherwise opaque and unfair process,” Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that is leading the impeachment probe, wrote in a letter to the committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California.

SEE ALSO: Republican letter to Chairman Schiff requesting Hunter Biden be made a witness in public hearings

Under the rules adopted by Democrats, Mr. Schiff and two other Democratic chairmen of committees conducting the inquiry have the authority to deny Republicans’ requests for witnesses.

The rules require Republicans to provide a justification for each witness they request and that the witnesses’ testimony conforms to the scope of the inquiry set by the Democrats.

Mr. Nunes also requested open-hearing testimony by other players in the Ukraine-corruption scenario, including Devon Archer, a business associate of Hunter Biden and former Secretary of State John Kerry’s stepson Christopher Heinz.

Two other GOP-requested witnesses who could give potentially explosive testimony are Democratic National Committee staffer Alexandra Chalupa and former Democratic opposition research operative Nellie Ohr.

At the DNC, Ms. Chalupa allegedly worked with the Ukraine Embassy in Washington to “get political dirt” on Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Mr. Nunes.

Ms. Ohr, who worked at the opposition research firm Fusion GPS that was involved in creating the unsubstantiated Trump-Russia dossier, has previously testified that Ukraine officials were involved in the dossier that helped launch the FBI and special counsel probes that sought but failed to find Trump-Russia collusion.

The Democrats’ impeachment case against Mr. Trump hinges on the allegation, first lodged by an anonymous whistleblower, that he abused Oval Office power by pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, who are political rivals.

Mr. Trump pushed for the investigation based on allegations stemming from Hunter Biden getting a $50,000-a-month job on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings while his father was the point man for Obama White House policy in that country.

The elder Mr. Biden, who is a top 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, and his son have insisted they did nothing wrong in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump also pushed for Mr. Zelensky, who was newly elected on an anti-corruption platform, to open an investigation of alleged Ukraine interference in the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

Democrats argue that Mr. Trump made $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine conditional upon Mr. Zelensky announcing the investigations, which is described as the quid pro quo of the president’s self-serving deal.

While Mr. Nunes stopped short of requesting testimony by the whistleblower, he requested testimony by all of the administration officials cited in the complaint by the whistleblower, who was not on the now-infamous phone call but heard about it from colleagues.

“The whistleblower suggests that he or she received accounts of President Trump’s July 25 phone call with President Zelensky and associated information from ‘more than half a dozen’ sources. These sources provided information that does not match the closed-door testimony from witnesses, particularly as it relates to whether the president actually conditioned a face-to-face visit or U.S. military assistance on opening an investigation into the president’s political rivals,” said Mr. Nunes.

These officials’ firsthand knowledge of events makes “their testimony particularly relevant to the American people,” he wrote.

Mr. Schiff and his Democratic colleagues say that testimony from State and Defense officials, obtained during more than a month of closed-door interviews, shows widespread concerns that Mr. Trump’s actions crossed the line from diplomacy to election politics.

The inquiry’s public hearings are set to begin Wednesday with appearances by State Department officials William Taylor and George Kent, who in their closed-door interviews told the committees they were concerned that Mr. Trump’s policy in Ukraine crossed the line.

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