Joe Biden was clear twice on the record in the past month that he would refuse to obey a Senate subpoena to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial. There was no lack of clarity in the questions or Biden’s answer.

As documented in my prior post, Biden said it in an NPR interview earlier this month and again to the Des Moines Register yesterday.

Biden’s preemptive refusal to obey a Senate subpoena received widespread news coverage, including even in the mainstream media:
Biden also was mocked relentlessly in light of Democrats impeaching Trump for allegedly “obstructing Congress” by not complying with congressional subpeonas. Of course, Trump has a legal defense to the subpoenas, based on separation of powers and executive privilege, while Biden has no legal defense.

On social media, the irony was not lost:

Biden announces that he will defy a congressional subpoena in the trial over whether Trump should be removed for defying a congressional subpoena.

NBC reporter Jonathan Allen noted:

Biden preemptively rejecting a subpoena has the effect of providing air cover for the White House.

Even Chris Cuomo figured it out:

“The idea of what Joe Biden is arguing here is exactly what you just impeached the president for.”

Bernie Bros used it as a sign that Biden couldn’t handle going up against Trump:

Joe “most electable” Biden says he won’t comply with a subpoena. For fucks sake people, this is part of why Trump was impeached. Biden would lose to Trump. Full stop.

Biden’s campaign must have told him to walk it back, because he took to Twitter to try to walk it back:

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.

Joe’s walkback was short of a statement he would comply, as liberal journalist Sam Stein tweeted:

some clarification here from Biden though—as far as I can tell— he doesn’t explicitly say he’d comply with a subpoena in this instance; merely, that he believes the subpoena would be illegitimate (with the implication being that he’d fight it in court).

This just reinforces the argument that despite spending his entire career in politics, Biden still is not ready for the presidential prime time. That’s a problem because being electable against Trump is all Biden has.


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