Parnas Messages to Be Part of House Filing: Impeachment Update

Billy House

(Bloomberg) -- The Senate will be ready to begin Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday after House prosecutors and the president’s lawyers file their trial briefs over the weekend.

Here are the latest developments:

Parnas Messages to Be Part of House Filing (6:36 p.m.)

House Democrats plan to include material from Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, as part of the official impeachment record accompanying the brief they will file before Trump’s trial starts Tuesday.

The brief will argue for admitting evidence not presented during the House investigation -- such as the material from Parnas -- as well as for calling witnesses not heard during the House probe, Democrats said in a briefing.

Documents released earlier this week by House Democrats contained messages to Parnas from GOP congressional candidate Robert Hyde suggesting that someone had then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch under surveillance near Kyiv in March 2019.

Additional Parnas material that will be part of the record was released by House Democrats Friday night, including a transcript of a Jan. 16 interview of Parnas on CNN, in which he says he’s willing to testify at the trial.

Democrats said they will argue that blocking witnesses goes against the history of impeachment trials, and that even Mitch McConnell spoke in favor of a request for three witnesses during President Bill Clinton’s 1999 trial.

The seven House managers plan to work through the weekend to prepare for the trial, and will do a walk-through of the Senate chamber Monday, the eve of the trial. Their individual roles haven’t been fully determined.

House Democrats set up a web page to serve as a repository for documents related to the impeachment trial.

Pompeo to Probe Possible Envoy Surveillance (12:18 p.m.)

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said he has an obligation to investigate reports suggesting that the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was under surveillance and possibly threatened by associates of Lev Parnas, who worked with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to find dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine.

“I suspect that much of what’s been reported will ultimately prove wrong, but our obligation, my obligation as secretary of State, is to make sure that we evaluate, investigate,” Pompeo said on the “Tony Katz Today” syndicated radio show.

The comments were Pompeo’s first public response to the claims surrounding Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador in Kyiv who was recalled two months early in 2019 after Giuliani launched an effort to oust her.

Documents released earlier this week by House Democrats contained messages to Parnas from GOP congressional candidate Robert F. Hyde suggesting that someone had Yovanovitch under surveillance near Kyiv. “If you want her out they need to make contact with security forces,” Hyde wrote in one message in March 2019.

Pompeo has faced criticism for not defending Yovanovitch during the impeachment drama. His silence about the possible threats to Yovanovitch provoked a new wave of outrage from current and former diplomats who said he was sacrificing security to preserve his relationship with Trump. -- Nick Wadhams

Weekend Briefs Promise Window Into Trial (10:17 a.m.)

The Senate, now converted into an impeachment court, has given the president and the House a series of deadlines to prepare for next week’s trial.

Trump’s legal team has until 6 p.m. on Saturday to respond to the Senate’s summons and must file its trial brief by noon on Monday.

The House must file its trial brief by 5 p.m. on Saturday, which is expected to be released publicly. The managers who will be prosecuting the House’s case have until noon on Monday to file their reply to Trump’s response to the summons. The House can also reply to the president’s brief by noon Tuesday.

The impeachment trial will begin at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, which will include a vote on the resolution from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to set the terms of the trial. -- Steven T. Dennis, Billy House

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

Trump Impeachment Defense Remains Work in Progress Near Trial

Key Events

Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in Thursday as presiding officer, and then administered the oath to senators as impeachment jurors. The Senate still needs to adopt trial rules.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.

--With assistance from Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis and Nick Wadhams.

To contact the reporter on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo, Anna Edgerton

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