Pelosi's new card to play on impeachment
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suddenly has a new lever as she pushes Senate Republicans to include witnesses and documents in President Trump's impeachment trial — a "trove" of text messages turned over by Lev Parnas, the indicted former Rudy Giuliani associate.
Why it matters: A public release of some or all of the materials could give Democrats new ammunition to argue that the White House must turn over more information and allow new testimony from witnesses.
What's happening: Parnas' lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, said in a series of tweets over the weekend and yesterday that he turned over to the House Intelligence Committee the contents of Parnas' iPhone 11, detailing interactions "with a number of individuals relevant to the impeachment inquiry."
- Bondy said he has also shared dozens of text messages, photos and materials from a Samsung phone and thousands of documents.
- He is also expected to provide investigators with materials from two other devices, an iPad and another iPhone, "as soon as possible," per Bondy.
In a phone interview with Axios last night, Bondy said he anticipates that when the articles are turned over to the Senate, "there will be a public record that is transmitted with that, including information from witnesses."
- "I have reason to believe that at least some of what Mr. Parnas transmitted to [the intelligence committee] will likely make the public record."
- Asked if the contents of the documents Parnas provided to the committee hurt the president, Bondy replied: "They aren't helpful."
- He added that Parnas is eager to testify before Congress, and hopes the document dump will help in getting his client an audience with lawmakers.
The backdrop: House investigators subpoenaed Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, in October shortly before the two men were arrested on campaign finance charges.
- The two men worked with Giuliani in his effort to dig up political dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine.
- They refused to cooperate, but Parnas ultimately ended up doing so after hiring a new lawyer.
What's next: Pelosi is meeting with her caucus later this morning, and will discuss the next steps on impeachment.
- Shortly after, likely this afternoon or Wednesday, the House is expected to vote on delivering the articles to the Senate and naming House managers.
The bottom line: Pelosi's efforts to force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to agree to document production and witness requests before the trial haven't worked.
- But a group of key Senate Republicans facing tough re-election fights, led by Susan Collins of Maine, want to keep open the option to call witnesses.