Parnas lawyer offers McConnell info 'directly relevant' to trial

Lev Parnas is offering the Senate potentially explosive information that's "directly relevant" to the impeachment trial. Will the GOP stop to consider it?
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By Steve Benen

As the day got underway, and the political world came to terms with Senate Republicans' apparent opposition to witness testimony in Donald Trump's impeachment trial, Politico published a random aside about expectations.

"Things in the Capitol always seem to go off the rails," the online piece noted. "Maybe it's because we've been through the wildest 1,105 days in the modern history of Washington. Maybe it's because Republicans have a razor-thin margin in the Senate. Maybe it's because we're all just skeptics and doubters by nature. Doesn't it just seem like we are due one more twist in this trial?"

One twist coming up.

The lawyer for Lev Parnas, the Rudy Giuliani associate who helped execute Donald Trump's Ukraine scheme, reached out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this afternoon, sending him a letter signaling what Parnas would say if he's allowed to testify in the trial as a witness under oath. From the letter (pdf):

"If Lev Parnas was called as a witness, he would provide testimony based upon personal knowledge, corroborated by physical evidence including text messages, phone records, documentary evidence, and travel records, which is directly relevant to the president's impeachment inquiry. This would include, but is not limited to, the genesis of his relationship with President Trump and the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his actions in Ukraine on behalf of the president, as directed by Mr. Giuliani.

"Mr. Parnas would testify to the efforts he and a handful of Republican operatives engaged in over a period of months, to remove Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and gather 'dirt' on Joe and Hunter Biden. Mr. Parnas would testify that those holding various roles in this plot included GOP super PAC America First, President Trump, Vice President Pence, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Bill Barr, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devin Nunes, Nunes' Staffer Derrick Harvey, Journalist John Soloman, Attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, Mr. Giuliani, and others. He is prepared to review and explain relevant phone records, text messages, and other evidence in connection with these activities."

Joseph Bondy's letter, which was also directed to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), went on to say Parnas would be able to detail "the thousands of micro-steps he took in connection with this plan" to gather information on the Bidens. This would include, according to today's correspondence, "the times and places where he had overheard [Trump] speaking Mr. Giuliani, and the occasions on which he interacted directly with the president."

The letter specifically references some additional details, including a reference to Giuliani's efforts to meet with a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as far back as May 12, 2019, and a "quid pro quo" Rick Perry allegedly "conveyed" during his trip to Kyiv for Zelensky's inauguration.

The letter added that Parnas is prepared to testify that "a number of people in [Trump's] administration and the GOP were aware of the demands being imposed upon Ukraine."

It concludes, "We urge you to endorse voting in favor of calling witnesses and hearing evidence, so Senators can make a fully informed choice in the President's impeachment inquiry, based upon all the relevant facts."

The message seems to suggest that Parnas and his attorney have some highly provocative information to share about the scandal, which is directly relevant to the proceedings.

It leaves us in an awkward but familiar position: there's important information waiting to come out, and it's entirely unclear whether Senate Republicans, after having sworn an oath to do "impartial justice," are willing to even consider it.

MORE: Today's Maddowblog