‘We would be remiss’ not to: House Democrats may call more witnesses if Senate does not

With the appointment of impeachment managers last week, the Senate is now taking up President Trump’s impeachment trial. But House Democrats might not be done yet.

Despite having completed their inquiry by sending the articles of impeachment over, House Democrats say they may continue calling witnesses if the Senate votes against doing so.

“We would be remiss in the House of Representatives not to follow this trail to its conclusion,” The Hill quoted Georgia Democrat Rep. Hank Johnson on Sunday.

Interest in calling Lev Parnas

Johnson is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and he added that other committee members “have their eye on” calling additional witnesses if the Senate chooses not to, with Soviet-born businessman Lev Parnas potentially being one of them.

“And,” he continued, “Parnas has emerged as an important figure in this criminal conspiracy to force or coerce a foreign government to help Trump’s reelection campaign.”

Parnas has been receiving significant media attention lately, with the indicted Ukrainian-American businessman telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week that “President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” regarding his alleged efforts to obtain a quid pro quo arrangement from the Ukrainian government. “He was aware of all my movements,” Parnas went on.

However, Trump contested that claim, declaring last Tuesday, “I don’t know who this man is.”

Johnson wasn’t alone in threatening action, as The Hill also quoted House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Elliot Engel making similar comments.

“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 asserted.

“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.”

Senate Republicans holding firm

For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been very resistant to the idea of calling additional witnesses who did not already appear during the House impeachment inquiry. What’s more, it seems that calling Parnas would be particularly undesirable to the Republican caucus. House Judiciary Chairman Lindsay Graham (R-SC) told The Hill, “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him.”

McConnell warned Tuesday that attempts to call witnesses will end up dragging out the trial — an unpalatable prospect for senators like Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who would prefer to be out on the presidential campaign trail.

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