Looming decision on McGahn testimony could trigger new impeachment fight in House

FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo former White House counsel Don McGahn speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

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UPDATED 3:25 PM PT — Friday, February 7, 2020

Democrats appear to be gearing up for a series of new legal battles against the White House. House lawmakers are waiting for guidance, which could be released as early as Friday, on the House Judiciary Committee’s ability to compel testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Democrats said McGahn has information related to the Mueller report, which could result in new articles of impeachment against the president. If McGahn is allowed to testify, House Intel Chair Jerry Nadler may be able to subpoena John Bolton to testify as well.

President Trump reacted to the new impeachment push by saying he will fight again if he must.

“We will probably have to do it again because these people have gone stone-cold crazy, but I have beaten them all my life and I will beat them again if I have to,” said the president. “What they are doing is very unfair.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., announces the passage of the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, against President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)

Meanwhile, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said these “people need to be held accountable” for trying to take the president down. On Thursday, Scalise said those who abused their power ought to go to jail.

He added there are “some very crooked people, including some dirty cops, who are still out there.”

Scalise went on to discuss the ongoing DOJ investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. He said he hopes the lead prosecutor on the case, John Durham, “names names.”

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Investigators claim FAA overruled safety system that ‘could have helped’ in Bryant helicopter crash

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UPDATED 11:19 AM PT — Thursday, January 30, 2020

New details have emerged surrounding the fatal California helicopter crash that killed nine people, including NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. One America’s Tali Letoi explains why the FAA could be partly to blame for the incident.

RELATED: NTSB gives details on pilot’s communications before helicopter crash, which killed Kobe Bryant & 8 others

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President Trump’s legal team could opt for shorter defense

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow speaks to the media during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

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UPDATED 1:31 PM PT — Friday, January 24, 2020

The president’s legal team is preparing to start its opening arguments on Saturday. The defense is pushing ahead with the plan, despite the potential for further declining viewership, and may opt for a much shorter defense strategy.

On Thursday, attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters the president’s legal team will present a vigorous defense of the facts and a rebuttal of the Democrats’ claims. He also said the defense team isn’t planning on running out the clock.

“We’re going to use a sufficient amount of time to defend our case and point out the inconsistencies of their case. We’re not going to try to run the clock out. We’re going to do what our legal team thinks is appropriate to present our case.” – Jay Sekulow, Counsel for President Trump

He went on to say the president’s defense will make a decision on the time frame and depth of their arguments after the Democrats finish theirs.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow, left, walks with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, right, as they arrive at the Capitol in Washington during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Earlier this week, Sekulow said Democrats are failing to present a coherent impeachment case. While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the attorney said Democrats have tried to deny the president his constitutional rights by dismissing executive privilege.

He stressed executive privilege is protected by Supreme Court decisions and added any attack against it amounts to an attack on the U.S. Constitution.

RELATED: House Prosecutors Rehash Old Arguments On Second Day Of Senate Trial, Cry Corruption

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Reporter’s Notebook: Senate impeachment trial could be biggest reality TV show of all time

closeFitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attackedVideo

Fitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attacked

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton reacts to House vote on impeachment articles.

The Senate has a specific set of 25 rules which dictate operations for a Senate impeachment trial. But the Senate’s only conducted 17 impeachment trials in history. No one knows how President Trump’s prospective Senate trial may look. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have wrestled for days about the possibilities of a Senate trial. So far, neither side is giving any quarter.

Senate impeachment trial rules are vague. They only say the Senate holds the trial six days a week, starting at 1 in the afternoon, Saturdays included.

There are only a few things the Senate has to do with the trial. One of them is present the House’s impeachment articles to the Senate out loud. Former Senate Sergeant at Arms James Ziglar announced that the House was “exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States” on January 7, 1999. On January 14, 1999, the late House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., laid out the House’s case to the Senate.

“We the managers of the House are here to set forth the evidence in support of two articles of impeachment against President William Jefferson Clinton,” said Hyde.

And after the managers speak to the Senate, pretty much anything can happen.

Clinton’s Senate trial ran about five weeks in January and February 1999 before the Senate voted to acquit. But no one is quite sure how long Trump’s trial could run. After the Senate verbally announces the charges and receives the House managers, anything can happen.

“Impeachment trials of the president of the United States are extremely rare. We really do not have a great deal of precedent on which to rely,” said former Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin, the body’s head referee. “The potential playing field is as yet defined. The lines are not on the field yet. I don't know if it's going to be 100 yards or 200 yards field and whether you can get a first down or a series of first downs and keep going.”

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over any Senate trial. But no one will have more influence over a Senate trial than McConnell.

“We don’t create impeachments. We judge them,” said McConnell.

But the Kentucky Republican says he’s coordinated with the White House about what the administration wants in a Senate trial.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

Nancy Pelosi speaks after House votes to impeach President TrumpVideo

Trump says he’s open to either a short or long trial. There’s been talk of the president appearing himself in a trial. Maybe calling the Bidens, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as witnesses.

Schumer tried to preempt GOP messaging on a Senate trial by making requests for when a trial should start, how much debate the Senate should allocate for closing arguments which witnesses the Democrats would like to see testify.

Schumer is executing an interesting gambit. Schumer and Democrats have long portrayed McConnell as keeper of the legislative “graveyard,” capitalizing on his self-assigned nickname as the “Grim Reaper.” Schumer essentially dared McConnell to say no to Democratic demands. The New York Democrat suspects McConnell would:

  1. Fail to implement any of the Democrats requests.
  2. Rush the Senate trial to the point that Democrats think senators never gave the House charges a fair hearing and abused the impeachment process.
  3. Conducts a trial which favors the president, since McConnell says he’s working with the administration to implement about what Trump wants from the GOP-controlled Senate.

Schumer then will attempt to add to the narrative that McConnell is indeed “the Grim Reaper.” Moreover, Democrats will weaponize such the Senate’s handling of a trial (and perhaps actual roll call votes in a Senate trial) against vulnerable Republicans facing challenging reelection bids in 2020: Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.

Schumer wants Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify – among others.

McConnell is cool to the idea.

“If the Senate volunteers ourselves to do House Democrats’ homework for them, we will only incentivize an endless stream of dubious partisan impeachments in the future,” said the majority leader.

A Senate trial with witnesses could produce one of the most surreal spectacles in American history.

That’s why even some key Republicans are leery of an unorthodox scene, and what it could mean for the integrity of the Senate.

Graham: Pelosi would lose her job if she didn't move toward impeachmentVideo

“I'm getting a lot of pushback from the right on this,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “You know everybody's dying to hear from Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and prove that there was corruption on their part, and to get Schiff. Shifty Schiff and all that good stuff. I'm really worried about where this could take the country.”

Like Graham, senators who served more than two decades ago also fretted about Clinton’s impeachment trial. Then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. says there were concerns about publicly airing salacious details about Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“There were some that wanted to have witnesses on the floor of the Senate in the well. Bill Clinton. Monica Lewinsky. And I said, no. We're not going to demean this institution to that degree,” said Lott.

That’s why Lott and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., forged a pact. The leaders convened a conclave of all 100 senators in the Old Senate chamber. Lott and Daschle forged a pact on how to conduct Clinton’s trial. It’s unclear if senators can form a bipartisan accord for Trump’s trial in today’s toxic political climate.

“If they don’t do this in the right way and they have witnesses on the floor, I think it takes on a context that could be harmful,” observed Lott. “It's bad enough and if this turns into an absolutely mudslinging process, it'll make things even worse.”

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A Senate trial isn’t expected to begin until January. And, Lott and Daschle didn’t reach their agreement until just before Clinton’s trial started two decades ago. And if there’s no pact on a Senate trial, Trump could find himself in a familiar spot: the star in a Senate trial.

Perhaps the biggest political reality TV show of all time.

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Could Dems defect in Trump impeachment trial? McConnell sees opening

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Speaking on impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says House Democrats are conducting

The Democratic senators who hail from states won by President Trump in 2016 are being eyed as possible acquittal votes in a Senate impeachment trial, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he believes at least a Democrat or two could defect.

It comes as the House barrels toward a floor vote on impeachment planned for Wednesday. If articles of impeachment are approved as expected, the Senate would follow with a trial in early 2020 where senators act as jurors.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell, R-Ky., said during a recent appearance on Fox News' “Hannity."

HANNITY EXCLUSIVE: MCCONNELL SAYS 'ZERO CHANCE' TRUMP IS REMOVED, 'ONE OR TWO DEMOCRATS' COULD VOTE TO ACQUIT

The most popular parlor game right now in Washington focuses on the House side — specifically, on which Democrats from Trump-won districts would vote to impeach, or defect, even though impeachment is widely seen as inevitable. On the Senate side, where Republicans hold the majority and the threshold for conviction is a steep two-thirds majority, Trump is expected to easily be acquitted. But Republicans nevertheless would like to peel off a Democrat or more in the upper chamber, which could make the vote bipartisan.

A source familiar with Senate impeachment trial plans told Fox News that Republicans believe the Democrats most likely to vote to acquit are Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both of whom represent red states that went for Trump in 2016.

Manchin is still undecided, according to a source familiar with his thinking. In a recent appearance on CNN, Manchin said, "I'm very much torn on it. I think it weighs on everybody."

Another source said they believe Jones — who is up for re-election next year in the pro-Trump state and is often considered the most vulnerable incumbent — is likely to be the first Democrat defection.

Jones told a local interviewer this week that “I’m concerned that the impeachment inquiry is going to hurt the country," lamenting how it has become such "a partisan issue now."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Other Democratic senators believed to be in play are Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Trump carried both states in 2016.

Sinema is the first Democrat elected to represent the typically red-leaning state in the Senate since 1995. Sinema has not signaled publicly which way she would vote on impeachment.

Peters recently told local journalists that, "It’s important to collect all of the facts regarding the situation, and certainly what facts are out there are very troublesome."

“Those four Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” a senior GOP aide told Fox News, referring to Manchin, Jones, Peters and Sinema. “They will have to resist the Trump derangement syndrome that is consuming their Democrat colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are making the case that Republicans could join them in a vote to convict Trump. Those most often mentioned as possibilities are Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has not shied from criticizing Trump; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who sometimes crosses party lines in votes.

But Republican sources told Fox News that none of those lawmakers have signaled any movement on the final Senate vote on whether to remove the president from office, and McConnell has said it has been his goal from the beginning to keep Republicans together on the issue.

The source also told Fox News that a recent letter penned by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., laying out his proposed parameters for what a Senate impeachment trial would look like and which witnesses should be included did not move the needle one way or the other for Republicans whose votes could be wavering.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE GOP COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

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“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles in the House,” McConnell told “Hannity,” while also saying that the impeachment case is “so darn weak” and that the outcome is easy to predict.

“There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office,” McConnell said last week, noting that he has “no choice but to take it up” but the trial would be “in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically related investigations—regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine, as well as issues related to the 2016 presidential election. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats have argued shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

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The House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final roll call in the full House is expected Wednesday.

A massive impeachment report issued this past weekend by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., stated: "This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election, as well as President Trump’s other actions, present a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain."

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: Congress, on overdrive, could see its busiest week ever

closeThe spinning of impeachmentVideo

The spinning of impeachment

Support slips despite saturation coverage.

CAPITOL HILL – This could be the week that broke Congress.

The ambition of the schedule reflects what usually goes down in December. The 12th month is almost always the most hectic on the calendar on Capitol Hill as lawmakers race to finish things before the end of the year. The crush is often a byproduct of a lack of focus and procrastination by lawmakers. This week’s docket certainly reflects that on some fronts.

However, the most significant factor this week is impeachment. That would be enough to tackle in any one week, but the complexity of the coming week takes things to a new level.

In chronological order:

Avoiding a government shutdown

Fox News expects the text of spending packages to avoid a government shutdown to be filed midday Monday. The plan would be to break the 12 annual spending bills into two “mini-buses” – as opposed to an omnibus, in which they rope all of the bills into one stash. President Trump has opposed an omnibus, so lawmakers would tether a batch of appropriations bills together as one minibus. The rest of the bills would be in the other pile. It’s unclear which of the 12 bills will fall where.

The House Rules Committee likely will meet late Monday to prepare these spending bills and send them to the floor for debate Tuesday.

It’s key for the House to get a jump on appropriations. The Senate requires time to process the spending bills later in the week.

Also, check the holiday spirit of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul and other senators may try to require that the bills clear various procedural traps. If everyone agrees, the Senate can move fast, but all it takes is one senator to slow things down. The deadline to fund the government is 11:59 p.m. ET Dec. 20. These bills would fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2020 – ending Sept. 30, 2020.

Impeachment

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee is set to meet at 11 a.m. to prepare the parameters of debate for the articles of impeachment. The Rules Committee is the gateway to the House floor for many bills, and, in this case, articles of impeachment.

The “rule” authored by the Rules Committee would establish how much time the House would devote to the articles and if any amendments would be in order for debate.

Eric Shawn: President Trump's impeachment edgeVideo

The House did not go to the Rules Committee for the articles of impeachment written for then-President Clinton in 1998. The Judiciary Committee summoned the articles to the floor in that instance through a parliamentary phenomenon known as “privilege.” The House then forged a unanimous consent agreement, in which all 435 members agreed to debate the articles over a two-day period. In all, 283 House members participated in the impeachment debate.

It would be nearly impossible to secure a similar unanimous consent agreement in today’s hyper-toxic climate. Receiving a “rule” from the Rules Committee would establish the structure for the debate and give Democrats more control over the process on the floor.

Going to the Rules Committee on Tuesday generally would mean the issue hitting the floor Wednesday. However, a senior House Democratic source would not rule out debate on the articles – and thus, a final vote, drifting into Thursday.

The House is expected to vote on two distinct articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Expect separate periods of debate and votes on both articles of impeachment.

If the House, in fact, votes on the articles Thursday, Dec. 19, that would come 21 years to the day that the House impeached Clinton.

Once the House adopts articles of impeachment, a couple of things must happen. The House must approve a separate resolution that dispatches the articles to the Senate – and names the “impeachment managers.” Impeachment managers are seen as “prosecutors” whom the House sends to the Senate to present the case. Historically, impeachment managers have been House members, but the rules are silent on whether the managers are required to be House members.

The Democrats' case for impeachment

The Democrats' case for impeachment

Rep. Madeline Dean on casting her vote to impeach President Trump.

The selection of impeachment managers would be a big deal, and it’s likely their identities will be revealed later this week. The impeachment managers usually come from the Judiciary Committee, but it’s possible others could score this plum assignment – like Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Keep an eye on Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and even Justin Amash, I-Mich., who left the Republican Party earlier this year.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT PROBE

The House still has two impeachment managers left over from Clinton’s impeachment trial: Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was an impeachment manager for the Clinton trial when he served in the House.

Schiff came to Congress in 2001 after defeating another Clinton impeachment manager, former Rep. James Rogan, R-Calif. Democrats specifically targeted Rogan for defeat after he helped prosecute Clinton in the Senate.

The House does not have to send the separate resolution to the Senate right away. It could hold the resolution if it wanted to do so. That could be weird — but anything can happen in this environment. The resolution is “privileged.” That means other members could try to force a vote to advance the measure to the Senate, but one wonders if the House may hold the paper to see if there’s an agreement on the structure of a Senate trial between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

In 1998, the House approved the secondary resolution moments after adopting the articles of impeachment against Clinton. Consequently, the Senate must also approve a separate resolution, indicating it’s ready to receive the House materials. It is unclear if the Senate action could happen immediately or after the first of the year when a Senate trial is expected to begin in earnest.

Regardless, it’s doubtful anything significant will happen in the Senate until after the first of the year, or, as McConnell said the other day, when the “bowl games end.”

USCMA

The House Ways and Means Committee – which has had jurisdiction over trade – scheduled a “markup” session to prepare the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement for the House floor on Thursday. The USCMA has enjoyed wide bipartisan support. The markup is set to take place in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building, the same spot where the House held impeachment hearings and markups for weeks.

America's dairy farmers hopeful on new USMCA trade dealVideo

After the markup, the USMCA package likely will go to the Rules Committee for a “rule” and then to the floor for adoption late in the week, maybe Thursday or Friday. The USMCA could be the exclamation point for the House at the end of a challenging week.

McConnell has indicated he won’t consider the USMCA until a Senate trial is complete.

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He’s kind of playing 3-D chess with the USCMA. On one hand, McConnell is challenging Trump about the length of a Senate trial. By holding out passage of the USCMA, McConnell is subtly pushing for a shorter trial so the Senate can advance the package as quickly as possible in early 2020. By the same token, McConnell is also trying to score points against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. McConnell is simultaneously suggesting that the Senate could take up the USCMA expeditiously – if it weren’t bogged down in an impeachment trial foisted on the Senate by House liberals.

This is likely the week that broke Congress – perhaps in more ways than one. And, if the workload doesn’t break Congress this week, it can always break on Christmas week, too, if lawmakers don’t wrap by by Friday.

Original Article

Biden blames staff, says nobody ‘warned’ him son’s Ukraine job could raise conflict

closeBiden says he won't appear as impeachment witness in potential Senate trialVideo

Biden says he won't appear as impeachment witness in potential Senate trial

2020 Democrat hopeful Joe Biden tells Fox News' Peter Doocy he will not voluntarily appear if called to testify in a Senate impeachment trial for President Trump.

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed in a new interview that when his son Hunter was a board member of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings while he was in office, no one informed him that it could pose a problem.

Biden insisted again that Hunter did nothing wrong, but this time appeared to fault his staff for not cluing him in that there could be concerns about his son's involvement with the foreign company that had been under investigation while Biden was in office and dealing with Ukraine policy.

FORMER VP BIDEN DISMISSES CLAIMS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS TURNING HARD LEFT

"Nobody warned me about a potential conflict of interest. Nobody warned me about that," Biden told NPR in a story posted Monday.

State Department official George Kent addressed this during his testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, acknowledging that he told staff members there was concern over the appearance of a conflict of interest, but that no one told the vice president because his older son Beau was suffering from what was ultimately a fatal battle with brain cancer.

"They should have told me," Biden says now. Hunter's dealings and the elder Biden's role ousting a prosecutor looking into Burisma are being used by Trump and his supporters against the now-2020 presidential candidate, even as Trump's effort to press for an investigation into that conduct has spurred the impeachment inquiry.

"The appearance looked bad and it gave folks like Rudy Giuliani an excuse to come up with a Trumpian kind of defense, while they were violating the Constitution," Biden said.

Trump's impeachment inquiry has focused primarily on his request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, as well as Democratic activities during the 2016 election. Democrats have accused Trump of using a White House visit for Zelensky and the delay of military aid to Ukraine as leverage.

JOE BIDEN GETS JOHN KERRY 2020 ENDORSEMENT

Trump insists he did nothing wrong and that he never called for any quid pro quo with the investigations. His administration claims that Trump was simply concerned about corruption within the Ukrainian government, asserting that is part of why he delayed the aid. Trump has also hammered the Bidens for alleged impropriety, blasting the former vice president for pressuring Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.

In the past, Biden has bragged publicly about threatening to withhold money from Ukraine in order to force the prosecutor's termination, but he claims it was due to suspicions of corruption, not because of his son's role with Burisma.

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Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently endorsed Biden for president, also claimed following a Biden campaign event Sunday that he "had no knowledge" of Hunter's involvement with Burisma while he was secretary.

This, despite Kerry's stepson Christopher Heinz reportedly notifying two of Kerry's aides after Hunter Biden became a Burisma board member. Heinz and Hunter Biden had been business partners, co-owning the private equity firm Rosemont Seneca. According to the Washington Examiner, an email from Heinz to Kerry's aides distanced Heinz from Burisma, saying "there was no investment by our firm in their company," and claiming ignorance as to why Hunter became involved in the Ukrainian firm.

Fox News' Rob DiRienzo contributed to this report.

Original Article