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 TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president 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 GiulianiLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' MORE, paint a more detailed picture of the smear campaign allegedly sanctioned by Trump that targeted a U.S. ambassador.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMcConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial Pelosi: Trump's impeachment 'cannot be erased' House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate 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 MurkowskiPaul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Seven things to know about the Trump trial Trump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer 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 YovanovitchLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Parnas says he told Trump Yovanovitch was badmouthing him. Trump turned to aide and said 'fire her' Overnight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon MORE and create conditions to push for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Ex-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine 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 BluntRoberts sworn in to preside over Trump impeachment trial Senate opens Trump impeachment trial Seven things to know about the Trump trial 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 CornynKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Seven things to know about the Trump trial New Parnas evidence escalates impeachment witnesses fight MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly' 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it GOP senator: 2020 candidates must recuse themselves from impeachment trial 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 BoltonParnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyCollins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Schumer doesn't rule out calling Parnas to testify in impeachment trial Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump 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 CardinNew Parnas evidence escalates impeachment witnesses fight Pressure building on Pelosi over articles of impeachment Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief 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.