Not surprising, the White House responded: “These allegations are being made by a man who is currently out on bail for federal crimes and is desperate to reduce his exposure to prison.”
How can we tell if Parnas is a walking-talking version of the Steele dossier — too good to check — or the leak in the dam that will unleash a torrent of conclusive evidence against Trump?
To begin, there is a lot of documentation pointing to the role of Giuliani and Parnas in removing then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. (Ironically, the investigation Ukraine opened on Thursday into possible surveillance conducted on Yovanovitch was in reference to text messages between Parnas and Republican operative Robert F. Hyde, which Parnas said he did not take seriously.) His accusation of presidential involvement lines up with Giuliani’s letter to Ukraine’s president seeking a meeting and presenting him as operating with Trump’s consent.
As The Post reports, his allegations match documents released to the House, including texts between attorney Victoria Toensing and Giuliani. Toensing asked, “Is there absolute commitment for HER to be gone this week?” Giuliani answered: “Yes, not sure how absolute. Will get a reading in morning and call you. Pompeii [sic] is now aware of it. Talked to him on Friday.”
That said, the only real way to find out definitively if Parnas is telling the truth or if some of his vague allegations (e.g. claiming Attorney General William P. Barr was “basically on the team”) is to bring them all in to testify under oath and collect all the documents relevant to the Ukraine extortion. That includes Parnas, Giuliani, Toensing (she might find it hard to sustain an attorney-client privilege claim), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Barr and others. In short, the way to get to the bottom of serious allegations of criminality is to hold a trial — a real trial.
The White House says Parnas is a liar. Let Trump’s lawyers cross-examine him. Present the Senate with all the pieces of the evidentiary puzzle. The Senate and the American people can assess the credibility of all witnesses.
Real trials in which the result is not preordained and both sides have counsel and a chance to present all the facts in their favor has worked out fairly well in the common-law legal system for hundreds of years. It is why the Framers of the Constitution decided on a trial and not an inquest to determine the president’s fate.
This is a perfect example of the necessity for holding a real trial. The Senate and the country cannot un-hear Parnas and unsee documents. Ignoring the evidence would be a statement: We don’t care to know the truth. It would be, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued, part of an ongoing coverup.