Parnas Says Trump Lied About What He Knew: Impeachment Update
(Bloomberg) -- The impeachment case against Donald Trump will move to the other side of the Capitol on Wednesday when the House formally notifies the Senate of the charges against the president and the House members who will prosecute the case.
Here are the latest developments:
Parnas Says Trump Lied About What He Knew (7:34 p.m.)
Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accused Trump of lying when the president said he didn’t know what Parnas was doing in Ukraine with Giuliani.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that aired Wednesday, Parnas said, “President Trump knew exactly what was going on.”
“I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president,” Parnas said.
Trump denied knowing Parnas after he and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were charged with campaign finance violations in October, although there are photographs of the three men together.
Parnas worked with Giuliani to dig up political dirt in Ukraine on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. His lawyer got permission to give documents related to Ukraine to a House committee this week.
Some of that material prompted House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel to demand information from the State Department regarding possible security risks to U.S. embassy personnel in Kyiv, including former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Parnas and Robert F. Hyde, a GOP congressional candidate, in March 2019 were “exchanging apparently highly sensitive information regarding the whereabouts of and security protocols” for Yovanovitch when she was ambassador, Engel wrote.
The House released additional documents from Parnas on its website Wednesday, including text messages and phone messages.
Trump Trial to Begin Tuesday, McConnell Says (5:45 p.m.)
Trump’s impeachment trial will begin Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the chamber’s floor.
On Thursday, the House managers will present the impeachment articles to the full Senate at noon, and Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in the senators at 2 p.m., McConnell said.
Then the Senate will notify the White House of the pending trial and summon Trump to answer the impeachment articles and send his lawyers, he said.
“So the trial will commence in earnest on Tuesday,” McConnell said.
House Sends Documents to Senate for Trial (5:34 p.m.)
The House is transmitting to the Senate the documents for a process that will lead to a formal reading of the impeachment charges against Trump on the Senate floor by the seven House prosecutors Thursday morning.
The seven House impeachment managers walked in a two-by-two line from the House side of the Capitol to the Senate side to deliver the impeachment documents.
Ahead of Wednesday’s brief signing ceremony by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, spokesmen for the speaker and for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bickered over the details of exactly was happening, in a sign of how petty the partisanship surrounding impeachment has become.
Pelosi aide Drew Hammill said the impeachment articles were among the documents being conveyed to the Senate after the signing ceremony, while McConnell spokesman David Popp said the House wouldn’t “exhibit” the articles until Thursday.
Hammill responded in a message, “The House never expected exhibition of the articles today. The articles will be transmitted to the Senate today as planned.”
Collins Says Rules to Allow Witness Vote (2:27 p.m.)
Senate Republicans haven’t released their proposed rules for the impeachment trial yet, but GOP Senator Susan Collins said she’s satisfied that they will “ensure a roll call vote on the overall issue of whether or not to have witnesses.”
Collins said that is “exactly” the process that was followed in the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial. Democrats want to call several current and former Trump administration officials as witnesses, an idea opposed by many Republicans.
Separately, Senator Roy Blunt said Republicans expect House Democrats to formally present the impeachment articles to the Senate on Thursday morning. Chief Justice John Roberts is likely to come to the chamber that afternoon to swear in senators, he said.
The Senate will have a small amount of time to conduct non-impeachment business every day, but members could do more with unanimous consent, Blunt said. He said it’s uncertain when Democrat Tim Kaine’s war powers resolution to limit Trump’s options against Iran might get a vote.
Trump to Be Vindicated, White House Says (1:53 p.m.)
The White House is prepared for Trump’s Senate trial to begin and excited for him to be vindicated, senior administration officials told reporters in a briefing after the House voted to appoint managers for the trial.
The officials spoke anonymously as a condition of participation in the briefing.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is expected to lead Trump’s defense with the president’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow. The officials would not say whether the team will include firebrand House Republicans who have defended Trump in hearings and on cable television, an idea that appeals to the president. Several Senate Republicans have cautioned Trump against it.
The officials said the White House will announce Trump’s defense team soon, declining to be more specific. They said the White House doesn’t think the Senate needs to call witnesses during the trial and that rules for the proceedings should allow for a motion to dismiss the articles of impeachment.
They said it’s extraordinarily unlikely that the trial would take more than two weeks because they believe the case against Trump is weak. They also expressed confidence the trial would be over before the Feb. 4 State of the Union address.
Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscalesaid in a statement, “This was a sham impeachment from the beginning and never anything more than Democrats trying to interfere in an election that is now less than 10 months away.” -- Jordan Fabian
House Votes to Send Articles to Senate (1:35 p.m.)
The House officially set Trump’s impeachment trial into motion by voting 228-193 to send the articles to the Senate, ending a brief standoff.
The vote split almost entirely along party lines, echoing the adoption of the impeachment articles on Dec. 18. Trump is charged with abuse of power and obstructing Congress related to pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival.
The resolution adopted Wednesday endorses Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s choice of seven House managers to prosecute the case against Trump in the Senate.
One of them, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, said in floor debate that Trump “gravely abused the power of his office” in the Ukraine matter and obstructed Congress’s inquiry by ordering an “absolute blockade” of evidence.
“The Senate is on trial. We will see whether they conduct a fair trial and allow the witnesses, or conduct a cover-up,” Nadler said.
Top Judiciary Committee Republican Doug Collins said Democrats violated House rules in conducting their investigation. He contended the impeachment was based on politics “and their dislike for this president and the good work he is doing.”
The House vote starts a series of ceremonial procedures that will unfold over the coming days. The House impeachment managers could head over to the Senate chamber as soon as Thursday morning to read the articles of impeachment aloud. -- Billy House
Stay In Your Seats, Senators Are Told (11:49 a.m.)
The normally empty Senate chamber will be full for Trump’s impeachment trial, with lawmakers instructed to be present for all proceedings and largely cut off from communication with the rest of the world.
Senate leaders on Wednesday laid out a series of restrictions, including the “request” that senators “remain in their seats at all times they are on the floor during the impeachment proceedings.” Messages from staff and others will have to be sent through party cloakrooms near the Senate floor, and phones or other electronic devices will have to be stored outside the chamber.
Senators were told to confine all reading to material related to the trial and instructed that they should “refrain from speaking to neighboring senators while the case is being presented.”
The guidelines will be particularly cumbersome for four Democratic senators seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination: Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado. The trial could last into February, as the first primary states begin caucusing and casting votes. -- Laura Litvan
Future Presidents at Risk, McConnell Says (11:43 a.m.)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to make a case for Trump’s acquittal on two articles of impeachment at the same moment Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment managers who will prosecute the case.
As the Senate opened for business Wednesday, McConnell said that if Trump isn’t acquitted, any future president will be at risk of impeachment if the other party “doesn’t like them.”
“We had a 230-year tradition of rejecting purely political impeachments, and it died last month in this House of Representatives,” McConnell said. “So Speaker Pelosi and the House have taken our nation down a dangerous road.”
He rejected the notion that the trial is about allegations that Trump withheld military assistance for Ukraine in exchange for a probe of Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son. McConnell said neither of the House charges violate the U.S. criminal code and said the process was about “naked partisanship.”
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democratic leader, came to the floor to defend the House’s actions and the “serious charges” against Trump. He said the allegation of an actual crime is not needed to convict, “and I think the majority leader knows that.” -- Laura Litvan
Schiff to Lead Team of Seven Trial Managers (10:12 a.m.)
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California will lead a team of seven managers who will present the impeachment case against Trump in the Senate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday.
Others named by Pelosi are Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren of California, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and Representatives Val Demings of Florida, Sylvia Garcia of Texas and Jason Crow of Colorado.
“These seven members have accepted this serious responsibility,” said Pelosi.
Schiff said the weeks-long delay in sending the impeachment articles to the House “has given us the ability of showing the American people the necessity of having a fair trial.”
Nadler noted that some people suggest letting the November election determine whether Trump should stay in office. “He’s trying to cheat in that election,” Nadler said, adding that the impeachment is an effort to stop the president “from rigging the next election.”
Trump responded quickly on Twitter: “Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats. All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!”
Pelosi to Announce House Trial Managers (6 a.m.)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will announce Democrats’ trial managers at a news conference at 10 a.m. Washington time. Later, the House will vote to send the impeachment articles to the Senate, in a resolution that will also approve Pelosi’s choice of managers.
After the floor vote, Pelosi and others will participate in a signing ceremony, followed by a ritual in which the House prosecutors will carry the two impeachment articles to the Senate.
Chief Justice John Roberts may swear the senators in later this week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, and the trial is expected to begin next week. -- Billy House
Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage
- The House impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.
- Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, is here.
- The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. The Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.
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