Joe Biden Says No ‘Legal Basis’ Exists for the Senate to Seek His Testimony

IOWA CITY — Joseph R. Biden Jr., elaborating on his remarks a day earlier that he would not comply with a subpoena to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that there would not be “any legal basis” for such a subpoena.

Mr. Biden wrote that over the course of his decades-long political career, he had “always complied with a lawful order,” and in his two terms as vice president, his office “cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests.”

In the first of three tweets on the subject on Saturday morning, Mr. Biden wrote that he wanted to “clarify” comments he made on Friday, when he met with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register, whose endorsement in the Iowa caucuses is highly sought after by presidential candidates.

Mr. Biden was asked by The Register whether he stood by previous comments that he would not comply with a subpoena to testify in the impeachment trial. He said he did, and explained that complying with a subpoena and testifying would effectively allow Mr. Trump to shift attention onto Mr. Biden and away from the president’s own conduct.

“The reason I wouldn’t is because it’s all designed to deal with Trump doing what he’s done his whole life: trying to take the focus off him,” Mr. Biden told the newspaper. “The issue is not what I did.”

On Saturday, Mr. Biden elaborated on Twitter: “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 House impeached Mr. Trump this month over his campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden. In the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s impeachment, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and the minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, have been in a standoff over proceedings for a trial, in part because of Mr. Schumer’s request to call Trump administration officials for testimony at an impeachment trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has said she will not formally send the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber until she has assurances that the trial will be conducted fairly.