15 January, 2020
WASHINGTON/ MELBOURNE: US Democrats will include new evidence provided by Florida businessman Lev Parnas when they make their case that President Donald Trump abused his power.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives say they will include new evidence when they send formal impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to the Senate.
Senior Democrats said they would include phone records and other documents provided by Florida businessman Lev Parnas when they make their case that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Parnas was an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who says Parnas helped him investigate Biden. The Ukraine-born Parnas has pleaded not guilty to federal campaign-finance violations in a separate criminal case.
The late inclusion of Parnas’ records, which were only made available to investigators in the last few days, suggested Democrats were trying to further substantiate their case before it heads to the Senate for trial.
Trump became only the third US president to be impeached when the House last month approved charges that he abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress in its investigation into his conduct.
The House will vote on Wednesday to send the impeachment charges to the Senate, kicking off a trial that could last through early February. It will also name the House lawmakers who will prosecute the case against Trump.
The Senate is expected to acquit Trump, as none of its 53 Republicans have voiced support for ousting him, a step that would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had delayed sending the impeachment charges to the Senate in an unsuccessful effort to get Republicans who control the chamber to agree to include new witness testimony that could be damaging to the Republican president.
Republicans mocked Pelosi for the delay, saying it undercut her argument that Congress needed to impeach Trump because he was inviting foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election.
Democrats said the delay allowed new evidence to emerge through government records requests — and now, the material provided by Parnas.
Democrats said Parnas’ phone included a screenshot of a previously undisclosed May 10, 2019, letter from Giuliani to then President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine.
“In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you,” Giuliani wrote. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)