Key House Democrats have declared that they will call on new key witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial if Senate Republicans do not.
Most Senate Republicans have publicly opposed any effort to seek testimony from key figures including Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman with close ties to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, who has since changed his tune and offered to testify under subpoena.
House Democrats, who impeached Trump last month on two charges related to his handling of foreign policy in Ukraine, are signaling that even if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has his way and prevents new witnesses from appearing, they may find a stage in the House, where a number of Democrats are already advocating for their testimony if they’re silenced by the Senate.
“We would be remiss in the House of Representatives not to follow this trail to its conclusion. And Parnas has emerged as an important figure in this criminal conspiracy to force or coerce a foreign government to help Trump’s reelection campaign,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, which drafted the impeachment articles late last year.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, left the door open to Democrats summoning relevant witnesses if the Senate does not. He vowed that Democrats will charge ahead with their Ukrainian investigation “if we’re feeling that we’re being played and that they’re not being forthcoming with the truth.”
“We’re not going to just say, ‘OK, we’ve disposed of it and now the ball’s in their court and there’s nothing left for us to do.’ I think quite the contrary,” Engel said. “The more we hear, and the more things come out, the more resolute we are to make sure that we’re dealing with the truth, and that it’s not being swept under the rug.”
Engel’s comments come just days after Parnas offered vivid new details of Trump’s effort to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, providing Democrats with a trove of documents, phone records, emails and text messages related to his communications with Giuliani and other associates.
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week. “He was aware of all my movements.”
“I don’t know who this man is,” Trump said Thursday responding to the interview.
Democrats are also hoping to hear testimony from a number of other administration officials, many of whom had declined to appear before the lower chamber last year after the White House blocked their participation.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said she wants to summon Giuliani to testify, while Johnson suggested Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff, and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of State, should also appear.
“Just the whole list that has been … talked about earlier — but add Lev Parnas to the list,” Johnson said.