President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who's reported to have played a central role in trying to convince Ukraine to investigate a Trump political rival, is “not relevant” to the Senate impeachment trial, Sen. John Cornyn said Sunday.
“That's a relationship that causes some of us to sort of scratch our heads,” the Texas Republican said on CBS's “Face the Nation.” “But I'd say he's not relevant to the articles and what the Senate is going to be asked to do, impeaching a president for the third time in American history for a non-crime over events that never occurred.”
The House Intelligence Committee released a series of text messages Friday that show an aide to California Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, in frequent communication with Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Giuliani who has become a key figure in the Ukraine controversy that resulted in the House’s December vote to impeach the president.
Asked about the newly revealed evidence, Cornyn responded that “there is no question that there have been a series of grifters and other hangers-on that have associated themselves with the president's campaign or claim to have special relationships with the president, but this is not the issue that the Senate is going to be deciding.”
“We'll take the issue of evidence as it comes,” he went on. “If the impeachment managers want to rest their case on the credibility of someone who is under indictment in the Southern District of New York with extensive ties to Russian oligarchs and organized crime ... then that's their choice.”
The Senate is poised to begin the impeachment trial in earnest Tuesday, signing off on formal rules for the trial within the next few days, including time limits for speakers and guidelines for floor votes over whether witnesses should be called.
“Fifty-three [Republican] senators will embrace essentially the same rules of the road that applied to the Clinton impeachment trial, deferring the decision about additional witnesses until after both sides have had chance to make their presentation and senators have a chance to ask questions,” Cornyn said. “We will be sitting there in our chairs probably on the order of six hours a day starting at 1 p.m. Eastern time and then six days a week.”
“This is going to be I think kind of a grueling exercise," he allowed, but also one that will be public."