The Post reports: “Three House committees sent dozens of pages of new evidence to the House Judiciary Committee ahead of Wednesday’s transmission of the articles of impeachment, ramping up pressure on Trump to provide Congress with additional documents related to his efforts to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens.” The documents include handwritten notes (“get Zalensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated,” referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and former vice president Joe Biden) and texts suggesting that then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance. (She was later removed from her post and was warned to leave Ukraine immediately.)
Politico national security reporter Natasha Bertrand explains: “This certainly makes it sound like Parnas and co. were actively tracking Yovanovitch’s movements. This could explain why Yovanovitch was moved out of Ukraine so quickly.” This is unprecedented and should be deeply disturbing to all U.S. diplomats. They should not expect Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who refused to defend Yovanovitch and is participating in the coverup by refusing to provide documents or testimony, to do much of anything.
Even more stunning, The Post reports that “the messages, written in Russian, show [Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Yuri] Lutsenko urging Parnas to force out Yovanovitch in exchange for cooperation regarding Biden. At one point, Lutsenko suggests he won’t make any helpful public statements unless ‘madam’ is removed.” Firing an ambassador in exchange for political help would be another bribe (i.e., a public act to get a private benefit).
There is also a letter dated May 10, 2019, from Giuliani to Zelensky introducing himself as acting with Trump’s “knowledge and consent” and requesting a meeting. This meshes with Trump’s later directive that U.S. officials and Zelensky should “talk to Rudy.”
Former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal explains:
This letter from Giuliani, just released,looks hugely significant. It says Ukraine was done for the President in his personal capacity and w Trump’s knowledge,not, as Trump has claimed,for the American people. Trump is going to have to claim Giuliani lying https://t.co/p2AS6pggAa— Neal Katyal (@neal_katyal) January 14, 2020
The notion that the holdup in aid was motivated by genuine concern for fighting corruption was always implausible. Now, with veritable smoking guns popping up left and right, several things should be obvious: First, Trump wanted an announcement of an investigation into a political opponent and was willing to hold up aid in defiance of advice that such action could be illegal. Second, Trump directed Giuliani and the freeze on the aid; this was no rogue action. Third, Trump has been struggling to keep damaging documents and incriminating witnesses away from the public and Senate. The only reasonable explanation is that, as bad as these documents are for Trump, there are still more damning documents and witnesses under wraps.
Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me the new evidence is " jaw-dropping" and “highly incriminating of both Giuliani and Trump.” Tribe says, “It’s bound to find its way into the Senate trial after Parnas is deposed by the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, as he’s bound to be.” Tribe continues, “The Giuliani letter presenting himself to Zelensky as representing Donald Trump in his private capacity at a time when Zelensky was the president-elect of Ukraine is remarkable in itself. It is a kind of hologram of the whole Ukraine-gate scandal.”
With several Republicans purportedly willing to vote for witnesses (Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah has said publicly he wants to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton), the newest document drop puts additional pressure on Republicans to demand documents and witnesses.
Former prosecutor Joyce White Vance observes, “The Parnas evidence needs to be assessed for authenticity and reliability.” She stressed that “the American people also need to know the truth about what happened. These allegations are serious, and if true, make it difficult to understand how this president can be trusted to remain in office.”
The delay by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in sending the articles over has allowed more evidence to surface, public pressure to build for a real trial and has already prompted one Republican to ask for at least one witness. The risk for Republicans is clear: If they fail to turn over every rock, find every document and subpoena every witness and decide to acquit, even more evidence incriminating Trump and making clear they effectively aided in a coverup is bound to come out.
“Even though the House has produced a compelling record, it’s clear there are mountains of evidence still to be uncovered in this case,” says former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller. “That evidence is all going to come out over the next few months, and any senator who votes to acquit Trump is going to own each new revelation.” The key question for Republican senators is whether they want to risk their political careers helping an unfit Trump escape responsibility for the worst conduct by any president in history.