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.
“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.
GOP impeachment counsel Steve Castor not willing to admit Biden was a leading Democratic presidential contender when Trump pressed Ukraine for investigations: pic.twitter.com/a5BIb2FOac
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) December 9, 2019