Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP

Pressure is growing on Senate Republicans to call Lev Parnas, an associate of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE’s personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down GOP lawmakers join social media app billed as alternative to Big Tech MORE, to testify in the impeachment trial. 

Democrats are opening the door to hearing from Parnas as a witness at the impeachment trial after an explosive round of media interviews and new evidence released by House Democrats, which details Parnas’s role in trying to convince the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign raised M more than Trump in the month of June RNC, Trump campaign raised 1M in June Michigan shuts down most indoor bar service in bid to prevent virus resurgence MORE.

The revelations, Democrats argue, underscore the need for witnesses and documents — something Republicans have so far resisted. 


Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday If only woke protesters knew how close they were to meaningful police reform MORE (Calif.) became the first Senate Democrat to call for Parnas to testify, telling MSNBC that the accusations levied by Parnas “should be pursued and should be reviewed” by the Senate. 

“I think he should be brought before us so that we can determine his credibility. There are many ways to judge credibility,” Harris said. 

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday The Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary MORE (D-Mass.) endorsed that effort, saying Parnas should be added to Democrats’ list of impeachment witnesses. 

Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer HUD Secretary: Congress 'should invest 0B in direct rental assistance' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House approves .5T green infrastructure plan | Rubio looks to defense bill to block offshore drilling, but some fear it creates a loophole | DC-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated House approves .5T green infrastructure plan MORE cannot be allowed to cover up the truth and protect Donald Trump. The Senate must hear directly from John BoltonJohn BoltonBolton says he would have personally briefed Trump on Russian bounties Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Mark Penn Judge temporarily blocks publication of Mary Trump book MORE, Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneySupreme Court ruling could unleash new legal challenges to consumer bureau Bottom line White House goes through dizzying change in staff MORE, and Lev Parnas,” Markey tweeted. 

Parnas has offered to testify, saying that along with former national security adviser John Bolton he could “fit in all the dots, I think, because I was on the ground there, and he was over here."

“Why aren't they calling me to testify? ... Call me. Ask me what Biden did wrong ... I think they're very afraid of me,” said Parnas, who has pleaded not guilty to campaign finance violations. He is reportedly looking to cooperate with prosecutors in his case.


Democrats released communications this week detailing Parnas conversations with Giuliani. The documents sparked a round of new questions days before the impeachment trial gets underway in earnest, including about whether Republicans were tracking former Ukraine Ambassador Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchCheney clashes with Trump Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Bolton book puts spotlight on Pompeo-Trump relationship MORE.

Parnas, since then, has engaged in a blitz of TV hits where he’s incriminated former Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryTexas cities say state is making pandemic worse Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Ernest Moniz Trump issues executive order to protect power grid from attack MORE, Giuliani and President Trump. 

“He was aware of all of my movements,” he said of Trump. “I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenHouse passes bill to sanction Chinese banks over Hong Kong security law D.C.-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated Senate Republicans defend Trump's response on Russian bounties MORE (D-Md.) described his reaction to watching Parnas’s interview with Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowTrump dings CNN, 'Morning Joe' ratings as Tucker Carlson sets record Susan Rice 'humbled and honored' by rumors Biden considering her for VP Trump touts ratings for rally, Fox News town hall: 'These are the real polls' MORE as “wow.” 

“All I can say is this: Republican senators who refuse to support the calling of fact witnesses and relevant documents should just resign for dereliction of duty under the Constitution,” he said. 

The news dump comes amid a bumpy patch for the Trump administration. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Friday accusing the White House of breaking the law with the decision to delay the Ukraine aid at the heart of the impeachment effort. 

Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested last year on allegations that they violated campaign finance laws in order to funnel money as part of a straw donor scheme to numerous Republican committees, including a $325,000 contribution in May 2018 to a pro-Trump super PAC called America First Action.

Democratic leadership and House impeachment managers aren’t ruling out trying to call Parnas as a witness. So far they have indicated they want to hear from Bolton, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Mulvaney's senior adviser Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, the associate director of national security at the Office of Management. 

“As for Mr. Parnas, it’s something we wouldn't rule out, but we want to see all of the — evidently there are four sets of emails coming out and I'd want to wait to see those,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOvernight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Top intelligence officials to brief Gang of Eight on Thursday Over 1700 veterans ask Senate to pass statehood bill MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters during a press conference. 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources MORE (D-Ill.), Schumer’s No. 2, added that Parnas’s communications “make it clear that Rudy Giuliani was negotiating directly, trying to negotiate directly with the president of Ukraine, over this question of military aid and the investigation of the Biden family.” 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Democrats face tough questions with Bolton MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement that they were reviewing “his interviews and the materials he has provided to evaluate his potential testimony in the Senate trial.” 

The White House has sought to distance itself from Parnas's accusations. Trump said that he had never heard of Parnas, arguing that he takes “thousands and thousands of pictures with people.” 


“I don't even know who this man is, other than I guess he attended fundraisers so I take a picture with him,” Trump told reporters. 

Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHouse postpones testimony from key Pompeo aide about IG firing The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic proposal to extend 0 unemployment checks Pompeo pushes back on Russian bounty reports MORE have also both denied knowing Parnas, with Pence calling his accusations “completely false.”

Senate Republicans brushed off the revelations casting doubt on his credibility. If Democrats decided to try to call Parnas they would need four Republican senators to endorse calling him — so far none have. 

“Looks kind of like a shady character,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday New legislation required to secure US semiconductor leadership GOP skeptical of polling on Trump MORE (R-Texas) told reporters. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Campaign Report: The political heavyweights in Tuesday's primary fights Harrison goes on the attack against Graham in new South Carolina Senate ad Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (R-S.C.) added that “I wouldn't trust him as far as I can throw him.”

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal MORE (D-Conn.) noted that while he wasn’t sure if Parnas is credible, his allegations do line up with other testimony from House impeachment inquiry witnesses including Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTop Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans are prioritizing big chains in coronavirus relief  MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. 


“I don't know whether Parnas is credible. What I know is that every criminal conspiracy is unwound by prosecutors by going after the implementers, then ultimately give you information to go after the person who ordered it. So I don’t know if Parnas is credible, but everything he's saying has frankly been confirmed by other witnesses,” Murphy said. 

“It is just an open and shut case to me that the president directed this scheme,” he added, “and Parnas’s testimony fits neatly with what we've already heard.”

Rebecca Kheel contributed.