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Trump impeachment defense team turns attention to Bidens, Burisma

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Image: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, centre, his son Hunter Biden, left, a
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, center, his son Hunter Biden, left, and his sister Valerie Biden Owens, right, joined by other family members during a ceremony to name a national road after his late son in the village of Sojevo, Kosovo on Aug. 17, 2016.   -   Copyright  Visar Kryeziu AP file
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President Donald Trump's defense team in his impeachment trial turned their attention to Joe and Hunter Biden Monday, painting the former vice president and his son as corrupt actors who were worthy of being investigated.

"When the House managers gave you their presentation, when they submitted their brief, they repeatedly referenced Hunter Biden and Burisma. They spoke to you for over 21 hours and they referenced Biden or Burisma over 400 times. And when they gave these presentations, they said there was nothing to see, it was a sham," Pam Bondi, a former Florida attorney general who is among the lawyers on the president's impeachment team, told senators Monday.

Bondi was the first member of the White House defense team to bring up the Bidens, though she was not the last. Another member of the team, lawyer Eric Herschmann, also spoke at length about the Bidens and Burisma in a subsequent presentation.

"In their trial memorandum, the House Managers describe this as baseless. Now, why did they say that? Why did they invoke Biden or Burisma over 400 times? The reason they needed to do that is because they're here saying that the president must be impeached and removed from office for raising a concern. And that's why we have to talk about this today," Bondi continued. "They say sham, they say baseless. They say this because if it's okay for someone to say 'hey, you know what? Maybe there's something here worth raising,' then their case crumbles."

At the heart of the House Democrats' impeachment case against Trump is the allegation that Trump abused the power of his office when he attempted to condition millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy launching investigations into Burisma — the Ukrainian gas company that Hunter Biden joined as a board member — and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

There has been no evidence of corruption on the part of the former vice president or his son.

In nearly 30 minutes of remarks on Monday, Bondi delved into the minutiae of Hunter Biden's involvement with Burisma repeatedly said that Democrats must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no basis for Trump to have raised concerns about the Bidens.

During her presentation, she played several video clips and displayed a 2014 Washington Post story and read a quote from it that said, "The appointment of the vice president's son to a Ukrainian oil board looks nepotistic at best, nefarious at worst."

She closed by claiming that, "The House managers might say, without evidence, that everything we just have said has been debunked, that the evidence points entirely and equivocally in the other direction."

"That is a distraction," Bondi said. "All we're saying is that there was a basis to talk about this, to raise this issue. And that is enough."