Tuesday 24 September 2019

Biden says Trump will be impeached if he blocks probes

Congress will have 'no alternative' to deal with unresolved issues, warns Democrats' frontrunner

Reaching out: Joe Biden and wife Jill at an campaign event in Pittsburgh. Photo: Reuters
Reaching out: Joe Biden and wife Jill at an campaign event in Pittsburgh. Photo: Reuters

John Wagner

Former US vice president Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast yesterday that Congress would have "no alternative" but to impeach President Donald Trump if his administration seeks to block its investigations of issues raised in the special counsel's report on Russian election interference.

Appearing on ABC's 'Good Morning America', Mr Biden said that the report by special counsel Robert Mueller left several unanswered questions related to whether Mr Trump obstructed the nearly two-year probe, and he argued that Congress should follow up.

"What the Congress should do and they are doing is investigate that," Mr Biden said. "And if in fact they block the investigation, they have no alternative to go to the only other constitutional resort they have: impeachment.

"My job in the meantime is to make sure he's not back as president of the United States of America," added Mr Biden, who formally launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination last week.

Mr Biden's comments came during a wide-ranging interview in which he also continued to grapple with controversies over his affectionate, physical style with women and his handling of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' 1991 Senate confirmation hearing. He also declined to say whether he would pick a woman as his running mate.

Frustration has been building among House Democrats as the Trump administration refuses to co-operate with an array of congressional inquiries, including several related to the report. Attorney General William Barr has threatened not to show up at a hearing scheduled for tomorrow in the House to address how he handled Mr Mueller's findings.

Mr Mueller's report did not find sufficient evidence to bring charges of criminal conspiracy with Russia against Mr Trump or anyone associated with his campaign. It did not offer a conclusion on whether Mr Trump obstructed justice.

Mr Barr later concluded that there was not sufficient evidence for obstruction of justice. But Mr Biden said in the ABC interview that are "about seven or eight things that are left undone" related to possible obstruction that Congress should pursue.

The interview aired on the same day that a new poll found Mr Biden opening up a lead in the crowded Democratic presidential field. In the poll released by CNN, 39pc of voters who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents say Mr Biden is their top choice for the nomination. His nearest competitor, Bernie Sanders, got 15pc of support.

The poll also showed the race remaining fluid, with only about a third of potential Democratic voters saying they would definitely support their preferred candidate.

A 'Washington Post'-ABC poll conducted mostly before Mr Biden's announcement also suggested there is room for other candidates to grow.

It found that over half of Democratic-leaning adults had no preference for the party's nomination when asked an open-ended question that did not name any candidates, though Mr Biden held a slight edge among those who did.

As he prepared to campaign in Iowa yesterday for the first time since his announcement, Mr Biden also released a new video that heavily features former president Barack Obama - whose endorsement Mr Biden has said he did not seek.

The video opens with Mr Obama praising his then-vice president in January 2017 as he bestowed Mr Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honour. Mr Obama calls Mr Biden "an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service".

In the ABC interview, Mr Biden said he was "really proud" of his service in the Obama administration but that he is not running for a third Obama term. "It's a new time, it's a new day," he said.

Mr Biden also continued to try to move past the controversy over how he has interacted with women, publicly touching them in ways that some have said made them feel uncomfortable.

"I've always thought that part of leadership, part of politics was listening to people, hearing them, making them feel comfortable," Mr Biden said. "It's my responsibility to be more sensitive to whether or not someone wants me to reassure them or wants to say hello or wants to show affection toward." (© Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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