Jan 19, 2020

Sen. Cornyn: There have been a "series of grifters" associated with Trump campaign

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday dismissed new impeachment evidence obtained from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, stating that there is "no question that there have been a series of grifters" who have associated themselves with the Trump campaign.

The exchange:

BRENNAN: "Doesn't it trouble you that [Parnas] was working so closely with Rudy Giuliani, who was acting on the president's behalf and saying he was acting on the president's behalf?"
CORNYN: "Well, 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."

Why it matters: Parnas has claimed that the campaign to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens was carried out with President Trump's consent and awareness. "President Trump knew exactly what was going on," Parnas told MSNBC last week.

Yes, but: Many have questioned whether Parnas is a reliable narrator because he's been indicted for violating federal campaign-finance laws.

  • Cornyn criticized Democrats for wanting to "rest their case" on someone "under indictment in the Southern District of New York with extensive ties to Russian oligarchs and organized crime."

The big picture: At least five former Trump campaign advisers or associates have been convicted or pleaded guilty to various crimes in the last three years.

  • Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, is reportedly under investigation for his business dealings, including his activities in Ukraine.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 9th day

Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue on June 3. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Wednesday, marking nine straight days of demonstrations.

The latest: As several major cities moved to lift curfews, NYPD officers "aggressively" dispersed large crowds in Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond New York City's 8 p.m. curfew, per the New York Times. The National Guard was stationed outside many protests Wednesday night, including in Hollywood and Atlanta.

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.