The Democrats’ latest star witness with supposedly bombshell evidence against Trump is getting bold.
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born businessman under indictment for campaign finance violations, capitalized on impeachment drama to demand that Attorney General Bill Barr recuse himself from his case, according to media reports. Lawyers for Parnas, who is an associate of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, claimed that Barr has a conflict of interest because of his alleged, yet wholly unproven involvement in the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine.
Parnas demands Barr recusal
In a media blitz last week, Parnas claimed that he was part of an orchestrated effort by the Trump administration to open investigations into Joe Biden’s conduct in Ukraine. Parnas entered the spotlight amid a partisan food fight on the eve of Trump’s Senate trial, as Democrats ramped up a pressure campaign to extract favorable terms from Republicans.
Democrats have pointed to new evidence and testimony from Parnas, which was handed over to Democrats last week, to make the case that additional witnesses such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton must be heard, but Republicans have attacked the businessman’s credibility.
In a letter from his attorneys, Parnas turned the recent media furor over Barr against the Justice Department to demand the attorney general’s recusal.
“Federal ethics guidelines bar federal employees from participating in matters in which their impartiality could be questioned, including matters in which they were personally involved or about which they have personal knowledge,” his lawyers wrote.
Although no solid evidence has surfaced to prove it, Democrats have sought to claim that Barr was in cahoots with Trump in an attempt to have Ukraine investigate Biden — largely on the basis that Trump mentioned Barr in his infamous phone call with Ukraine’s president. Parnas also cited the anonymous whistleblower complaint that named Barr as someone who played a role in Trump’s “abuse of power.”
Drama amid partisan battle
The Justice Department has totally dismissed Parnas’ claims about Barr’s alleged involvement as “100 percent false,” but lawyers for Parnas claimed that a delay in producing discovery evidence was somehow connected with Barr’s supposed bias. This delay, they said, “appears to have caused actual harm to Mr. Parnas” by preventing him from complying with a subpoena from Congress.
That evidence was finally delivered to Congress recently, feeding into a push — right before Trump’s Senate trial — from Democrats who have alleged a so-called “cover up” by Republicans, a claim that GOP senators have dismissed as mere partisan theater. Republicans have attacked Democrats for taking the word of an indicted associate of Giuliani’s — himself a crook in the Democrats’ eyes — at face value, in an apparent effort to destroy the president.
It’s uncertain if Parnas will testify in the Senate trial, which grinds on amid a fierce battle over ground rules for time and witness requests. The parties battled Tuesday over Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) resolution to give both sides 24 hours in a two-day timeframe to make their opening statements — a window that Democrats said would push the trial into the dead of night, when Americans would be sleeping.
A fight over witnesses still looms, as Democrats vow to pressure Republicans to satisfy all of their demands for evidence or else go down in history as traitors to the Constitution.
Fortunately, it is likely that all of this impeachment theater — Parnas sub-plot included — will soon be forgotten once the trial wraps up in a matter of weeks.