Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden asked the Des Moines Register's editorial board to "examine their conscience" in an interview posted Friday, after the newspaper's executive editor pressed the former senator on his vow not to comply if he is called to testify before the upper chamber as part of the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.
What are the details?
The Register's executive editor, Carol Hunter, asked Biden about his previous declaration that he would not show up if the Senate calls him to testify, asking the candidate, "Do you stand by your earlier statements that you wouldn't comply if you were subpoenaed to testify in an impeachment trial before the Senate?"
"Correct," Biden responded. "And the reason I wouldn't, is because it's all designed to deal with Trump doing what he's done his whole life. Trying to take the focus off him. The issue is not what I did. Not a single person, not one single person — even that thug [Rudy] Giuliania and his compatriots — have said I did anything other than my job."
"This is all about a diversion," Biden continued, before claiming that "every single person" thought the Ukrainian prosecutor Biden bragged about getting fired should have been gone. The former vice president emphasized the "people in the [Obama] administration" were also in agreement.
Ms. Hunter pressed Biden, asking, "Doesn't that position you as if you're defying a subpoena, putting yourself above the law?" echoing what House Democrats have said against President Donald Trump for not testifying in their impeachment probe.
"Well, look, the grounds for them to call me would be overwhelmingly specious," Biden responded, adding, "I don't anticipate that happening anyway."
"Let's say I voluntarily just said let me go and make my case," Biden said. "What are you going to cover? You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And [Trump's] going to get away." Leaning toward Ms. Hunter at the table, Biden continued, "You guys buy into it all the time. Not a joke. Think about it."
At that point, Biden looked around the room and said, "As they say in my church, examine your conscience. Doesn't mean I shouldn't testify if you thought I should, but think what it's about. It's all about what he does all the time. His entire career. Take the focus off."
Then, again leaning toward Ms. Hunter and staring at her, Biden started banging his index finger on the table while asserting, "This guy violated the Constitution. He said it in the driveway of the White House. He acknowledged he asked for help."
The reason Biden's name has been floated as a possible witness in the Senate is because President Trump is accused of asking the president of Ukraine to look into corruption probes involving a Ukrainian firm that employed the former vice president's son, Hunter Biden, beginning in the Obama administration.