New Parnas evidence escalates impeachment witnesses fight

New evidence from indicted businessman Lev Parnas related to the White House pressure campaign in Ukraine is escalating a fight over whether to allow witnesses and additional documents in President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE’s impeachment trial.

Text messages, handwritten notes and official correspondence turned over under subpoena by Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Latest 'Borat' footage appears to show star at the White House, meeting Trump Jr. Kushner friend arrested on cyberstalking charges MORE, paint a more detailed picture of the smear campaign allegedly sanctioned by Trump that targeted a U.S. ambassador.


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-N.Y.), one of seven impeachment managers charged with prosecuting the case against the president in the Senate, said “there may very well be” more information from Parnas that is disclosed in the coming days and weeks.

The documents, released Tuesday evening, underscore how investigators continue to gather evidence from key players, despite the House voting last month to impeach Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

It’s unclear whether Senate Republicans will allow new evidence in the first phase of the trial or if it will be considered after senators have the chance to question House managers and Trump’s defense team. Senators might also decide not to include the recently revealed documents.

 “There is news every day and that will likely be factored in,” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session Republicans advance Barrett's Supreme Court nomination after Democrats boycott committee vote Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE (R-Alaska) said of the documents provided by Parnas.

 “But what we know is that we will have an opportunity as senators to weigh in at that appropriate time, after the questioning phase, to determine if we need more information. So whether it is by witness, by documentation, or what it may be,” she added.

A senior administration official declined to comment Wednesday on the Parnas documents, saying it was not clear the files would even be part of the impeachment process.

 “We don’t have any comment on those documents at this point,” the official said. “That’s something that it’s not clear that it’s even going to be a part of this process and we’re not going to get out ahead of reacting on that right now.”

The trove of documents provided by Parnas offers additional, corroborating details over issues at the heart of Trump’s impeachment, including efforts to remove U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchGrand jury adds additional counts against Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and and Igor Fruman Strzok: Trump behaving like an authoritarian Powell backs Biden at convention as Democrats rip Trump on security MORE and create conditions to push for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE and his son Hunter Biden to benefit Trump’s reelection prospects.

Text messages between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Trump campaign donor and 2020 candidate in a Connecticut congressional race, refer to Yovanovitch in offensive and derogatory terms. They also suggest the two men had Yovanovitch under surveillance until her departure from Kyiv in May.

The documents say that Giuliani was acting with Trump’s “knowledge and consent” to pursue a shadow foreign policy, with a letter signed by Giuliani asking for a meeting with Zelensky and with the approval of Trump.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntPower players play chess match on COVID-19 aid GOP to Trump: Focus on policy Low-flying helicopters to measure radiation levels in DC before inauguration MORE (R-Mo.), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said admission of any new evidence is likely to be decided by senators and Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial.

“It sounds like a decision the chief justice and the Senate may have to make,” he said, while downplaying the significance of the Parnas documents.

 “My initial view of the evidence last night is, there’s nothing much there that hasn’t been already acknowledged, by either the president or Mr. Giuliani,” Blunt said Wednesday.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in The Hill's Campaign Report: Obama to hit the campaign trail l Biden's eye-popping cash advantage l New battleground polls favor Biden Quinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE (R-Ky.), said Senate Republicans have agreed to hold a vote over whether to call witnesses and consider additional evidence after the first phase of the trial.

 “What we’ve agreed to do is defer that decision, pending the vote of 51 senators, until after both sides have had a chance to have their say,” he said.

Democrats have seized on the Parnas papers to argue witnesses and documents are needed at the trial, which is slated to start next week.

“Each day that goes by, the case for witnesses and documents gains force and gains momentum,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump announces opening of relations between Sudan and Israel Five takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference Pelosi calls Iran 'bad actor' but not equivalent to Russia on election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) said on the floor Wednesday. “Last night, a new cache of documents, including dozens of pages and notes, text messages and other records shed light on the activities of the president’s associates in Ukraine.”

The fight over calling witnesses will pit Democrats against Republicans, not just over who to call but also whether any witnesses should testify. Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonJohn Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report Bolton: North Korea 'more dangerous now' Demand for Trump-related titles sparks expected record year for political books MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump says he may lower corporate tax rate to 20 percent if reelected Is Social Security safe from the courts? On The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security MORE are viewed as key witnesses by Democrats.

Bolton, one of a few members of the president’s team with firsthand knowledge of the Ukraine pressure campaign, has been described in testimony as referring to Giuliani as “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up” and his dealings in Ukraine as a “drug deal.”

But Democrats would have to weigh calling Bolton with the potential for Republicans to push for testimony from Joe Biden or Hunter Biden.

Republicans have also called for testimony from the anonymous whistleblower, who filed the complaint alleging Trump acted inappropriately on a July 25 phone call with Zelensky to launch investigations into the Bidens.

 “I agree the president’s defense lawyers should have the opportunity to suggest witnesses that need to be called,” said Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinBipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning Pelosi hopeful COVID-19 relief talks resume 'soon' Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out MORE (D-Md.). “I think that we recognize bringing in Hunter Biden has no relevancy to the articles of impeachment. It would try to distract — I’m not sure that’s helpful for trial. I’d like to see the president’s lawyers make the relevancy argument.”

Scott Wong, Morgan Chalfant and Jordain Carney contributed.