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Biden tries walking back Senate subpoena defiance, but refuses to clarify if he would comply with one


President Trump was just impeached for not complying with subpoenas

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Former Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter on Saturday to "clarify" recent comments where he implied that he would not comply with a Senate subpoena requiring him to testify in the upcoming impeachment trial of President Trump.

When asked by the Des Moines Register on Friday if he would appear before the Senate, Biden said his presence would only "[t]ake the focus off" Trump.

"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 what it's about. It's all about what he does all the time, his entire career. Take the focus off. This guy violated the Constitution. He said it in the driveway of the White House. He acknowledged he asked for help," he said.

Biden's response raised eyebrows, in part, because one of the articles of impeachment against Trump charges him with instructing witnesses to ignore congressional subpoenas.

Biden's tweets raised new questions

The former vice president sought to address the controversy this weekend and walk back his answer, but his tweet thread raised new questions about his willingness to cooperate with the Senate's impeachment investigation.

I want to clarify something I said yesterday. 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 Mike Pence — cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests.

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.

The subpoenas should go to witnesses with testimony to offer to Trump's shaking down the Ukraine government — they should go to the White House.

Why would the Senate subpoena Biden?

Some Republicans have indicated they may use the trial as an opportunity to probe business dealings by Biden's son, Hunter, and whether the former vice president pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who was investigating a company where Hunter sat on the board.

However, while Biden accused Trump on Saturday of "shaking down the Ukraine government," it remains unclear if he would comply with a Senate subpoena.

House and Senate leaders are currently negotiating the terms of an impeachment trial. Biden has not been subpoenaed, but some of Trump's allies have suggested he should be.

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