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 TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP 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 GiulianiThree Democrats call for investigation into Sidney Powell to move 'swiftly' Fox News bans Rudy Giuliani from appearing: report Alabama official dismisses Lindell claim that 100K votes were flipped from Trump to Biden: 'It's not possible' 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 NadlerBiden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan Angelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators 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 MurkowskiGOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff Graham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet Trump, allies launch onslaught as midterms kick into gear 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 YovanovitchGiuliani hires attorneys who defended Harvey Weinstein The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Former Ukrainian prosecutor says he was fired for not investigating Hunter Biden: report MORE and create conditions to push for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place 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 BluntRoy Blunt has helped forge and fortify the shared bonds between Australia and America The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B 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 CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow the Democratic Party's campaign strategy is failing America GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis 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 SchumerAnti-Trump Republicans on the line in 2022 too Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo Democrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol 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 BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' 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 CardinLawmakers say innovation, trade rules key to small business gains The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks House Democrat: Staff is all vaccinated 'because they don't like to be dead' 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.