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 TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media 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 GiulianiWhat our kids should know after the Capitol Hill riot  How to stop Trump's secret pardons Trump tells aides not to pay Giuliani's legal fees: report 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 NadlerPelosi names 9 impeachment managers Republicans gauge support for Trump impeachment Clyburn blasts DeVos and Chao for 'running away' from 25th Amendment fight 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 MurkowskiImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history 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 YovanovitchTrump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report Former Giuliani associates plead not guilty to new fraud charges Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet MORE and create conditions to push for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMissouri woman seen with Pelosi sign charged in connection with Capitol riots Facebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP 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 BluntUS Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots Senate to be briefed on inauguration security after Capitol attack This week: Democrats barrel toward Trump impeachment after Capitol attack 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 CornynCruz, Cornyn to attend Biden inauguration McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Rick Scott will 'likely' join challenge to election results MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBoebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 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 SchumerBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Democrats looking to speed through Senate 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 BoltonAfter insurrection: The national security implications McConnell won't reprise role as chief Trump defender Cyber czar to draw on new powers from defense bill MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - House to impeach Trump this week Democrats, GOP face defining moments after Capitol riot The Memo: GOP and nation grapple with what comes next 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 CardinSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Georgia keeps Senate agenda in limbo Trump signs bill authorizing memorial to fallen journalists 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.