GOP Impeachment Counsel Won’t Admit Biden Was Top 2020 Contender When Trump Targeted Him

Minority Counsel Stephen Castor testifies during the House Judiciary Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on December 9, 2019. - The imp... Minority Counsel Stephen Castor testifies during the House Judiciary Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on December 9, 2019. - The impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump in a sharply divided US Congress enter a new phase Monday when the House Judiciary Committee convenes a hearing expected to result in specific charges against the Republican leader. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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December 9, 2019 1:41 p.m.

The staff lawyer for the Republicans in the impeachment inquiry was not willing to acknowledge that Joe Biden was a leading 2020 presidential contender at the time President Donald Trump pressed Ukraine for dirt on Biden.

Trump’s effort to weaken Biden’s candidacy by demanding the investigations from the Ukrainians is at the center of the impeachment inquiry. But Steve Castor, the top Republican staff lawyer on the House Intelligence Committee, hesitated to even acknowledge Biden’s candidacy under questioning Monday.

“Would you agree that Joe Biden was a leading Democratic contender to face President Trump in 2020?” Democratic staff lawyer Barry Berke asked Castor during Monday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry.

“I wouldn’t agree with that,” Castor replied. “It’s too early.”

Berke asked if Castor had seen how often Trump had tweeted about Biden — over 25 times between January and July 25, Berke said — and brought him up at rallies.

Castor hadn’t.

“President Trump goes to a lot of rallies,” Castor said. “He does a lot of tweeting. I think it’s pretty difficult to draw too many conclusions from his tweets or his statements at rallies.”

Later, after procedural interruptions from committee Republicans, Berke asked Castor if he knew Biden had formally announced his candidacy for president in April, just before Trump’s pressure campaign heated up.

“It’s been related to me. I don’t know when Vice President Biden indicated he was going to run, as I sit here today,” Castor said.

Watch below:

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