House chairs send additional evidence for impeachment to Senate
The four House committees at the center of the chamber’s impeachment proceedings against President Trump released additional evidence on Tuesday to be transmitted to the Senate ahead of its upcoming trial.
The Democratic chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees sent evidence to the House Judiciary Committee that was provided by Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The Judiciary panel will incorporate the new evidence in the official record it will send to the Senate before it starts its proceedings next week.
Among the pieces of evidence from Parnas are phone records, documents and other materials regarding his role in efforts to convince the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s chief political rivals.
The documents include a photocopy of a note thought to be written by Parnas reading, “Get [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.” It also says to start communicating with Zelensky without two people described as “prominent and politically-connected Ukrainian oligarchs.”
“Despite the President’s unprecedented and sweeping obstruction of our impeachment inquiry, we have continued to collect additional evidence relevant to the President’s scheme to abuse his power by pressing Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election for the President’s benefit,” the House chairmen said in a statement Tuesday.
“All of this new evidence confirms what we already know: the President and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit the President politically. There cannot be a full and fair trial in the Senate without the documents that President Trump is refusing to provide to Congress,” they added.
Parnas has emerged as a focal figure in the impeachment process, with Democrats saying he played a key role in relaying Trump’s wishes to Ukrainian figures. In the documents released by House investigators, Parnas said he intended to work his “magic” to reach a deal with Kyiv. The documents indicate that Parnas tried to set up a meeting between Zelensky and Giuliani but was unsuccessful.
The documents also show Giuliani taking an active role in furthering Trump’s personal interests in Ukraine. Included in the documents is a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky shortly after his surprise victory in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election asking for a 30-minute meeting, saying he was making the request with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
It’s unclear exactly what Giuliani wanted to discuss in the meeting, but he said he would “be accompanied by my colleague Victoria Toensing, a distinguished American attorney who is very familiar with this matter.” Giuliani later canceled his planned trip to Ukraine following blowback.
Also in the documents is a text exchange between Giuliani and Parnas regarding former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch time-stamped April 23, 2019 — the day before Yovanovitch received a call from the State Department recalling her to the U.S. Giuliani texted Parnas, “He fired her again.” Parnas responded, “I pray it happens this time I’ll call you tomorrow my brother.”
Parnas was known to be one of several figures involved in the administration’s efforts to get Zelensky to investigate Biden as well as remove Yovanovitch, who some believed would be an obstacle to Trump’s efforts.
Parnas and Igor Fruman, also a Giuliani associate, were indicted in October for federal campaign finance violations centered around allegedly funneling donations to a group supporting Trump’s reelection campaign. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The transmission of the new evidence follows a weeks-long feud between House Democrats and Senate Republicans in which Democrats in the lower chamber have tried to convince Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to agree to hear from witnesses prior to starting the trial.
The GOP leader has won enough support from Republicans to deal with the issue of witnesses after the proceedings are already underway, though some Republicans have indicated they still would like to hear from some administration officials and Trump associates.
The House will hold a vote Wednesday to transfer the two impeachment articles against Trump to the Senate, setting up a trial that McConnell said will start next Tuesday. The House passed the two articles last month, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
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