Impeachment watch: Indicted Giuliani aide Lev Parnas confirms quid pro quo

2020

It appears Parnas, who was indicted on campaign finance charges, has turned on both Giuliani and Trump.

Yet another person has confirmed that Donald Trump demanded Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's potential 2020 political rival, or the country wouldn't receive United States military aid.

Lev Parnas, an associate to Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, says he personally traveled to Ukraine to give the ultimatum, according to a report in the New York Times.

Parnas also told Ukraine that Vice President Mike Pence wouldn't attend the newly elected Ukrainian president's inauguration unless the country investigated Biden, according to the New York Times.

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Parnas — who was indicted along with fellow Giuliani associate Igor Fruman on campaign finance charges — is gearing up to testify in the House impeachment probe.

At first, Parnas said his testimony might not be possible due to executive privilege — a claim that suggests he has had interactions with Trump.

However, after Trump claimed he doesn't know who Parnas is, Parnas said he was open to talking to congressional investigators.

His testimony would give House investigators yet more evidence that Trump corruptly used his presidential power for personal political gain, raising the stakes that Trump gets impeached.

Giuliani, for his part, denies Parnas' account. However, Giuliani doesn't have a good track record of keeping things straight. He's also contradicted himself on national television.

Here's what else is happening in impeachment news:

  • It's going to be a busy week on the impeachment front, as the inquiry moves into a public phase. The House Intelligence Committee is holding three public impeachment hearings. Two will take place on Wednesday with top U.S. diplomate to the Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent. Former Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify on Friday.
  • Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, released a list on Saturday of witnesses the GOP wants to call for public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. The list includes people who are completely irrelevant to the impeachment inquiry, such as Nellie Ohr, a favorite of Fox News conspiracy theorists who rail against the Fusion GPS dossier. The list also includes Hunter Biden — who Trump wanted the Ukrainians to investigate despite zero evidence that Biden did anything wrong. Republicans also want the initial whistleblower to testify. Trump and other Republicans have pushed for outing the whistleblower's identity, even though the whistleblower is no longer relevant to impeachment, as the complaint the whistleblower provided has been corroborated by multiple other witnesses. Outing the whistleblower's identity could endanger their safety.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is already shutting down his Republican counterpart's efforts to protect Trump with the unserious witness list. In a letter to Nunes, Schiff said the impeachment hearings "will not serve as vehicles for any Member to carry out the same sham investigations into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit." Schiff added that his committee "will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm."
  • On Friday, Trump told reporters that there shouldn't even be public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. This comes after Republicans railed against the private depositions the House was holding. Schiff called Trump and the GOP out for their changing demands. "First, Republicans objected to private depositions, even though almost fifty of their members could attend. Now, they don't want public hearings," Schiff tweeted on Friday. "The only consistency — They don't want the American people to learn the truth about the President's serious misconduct."

Come back tomorrow for more impeachment news.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.