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Republicans want Hunter Biden and Ukraine whistle-blower to testify

WASHINGTON:  Republicans on Saturday asked that former vice-president Joe Biden's son and the whistle-blower whose complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump be called to testify in public hearings that begin next week.

Democrats who control the US House of Representatives, however, likely will reject appearances by Mr Hunter Biden and the unidentified whistle-blower in the hearings due to open on Wednesday.

Mr Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, included the pair in a list of proposed witnesses he sent in a letter to the panel's Democratic chairman, Mr Adam Schiff, published on multiple news websites.

In the letter, Mr Nunes said the Democrats were pursuing a "sham impeachment process" that has mistreated Mr Trump. Mr Nunes also accused Mr Schiff of fabricating evidence to cast "in a sinister light" the telephone call at the inquiry's heart.

Mr Trump used the July 25 call - a rough transcript of which was released by the White House - to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

Mr Joe Biden is a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to oppose Mr Trump's bid for re-election next year.

While he served as vice-president, his son was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.

The complaint alleged that Mr Trump used the call to seek foreign help for personal political gain, a charge broadly substantiated by the testimonies of US officials in three weeks of closed hearings.

Mr Trump and his Republican allies deny there was any wrongdoing.

Should the House impeach Mr Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate would conduct a trial that could see him removed from office.

In asking for the whistle-blower, Mr Nunes said Mr Trump "should be afforded an opportunity to confront his accusers".

In a statement issued after receiving Mr Nunes' letter, Mr Schiff said the Republicans' proposed witness list was being evaluated. - REUTERS

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