Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday, and it’s unclear if he will be called to testify in the Senate impeachment trial that begins Tuesday. According to former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman, however, whatever Parnas says is not as important as the documents he submitted three months ago to the Department of Justice and to the House Intelligence Committee.
In an editorial column for the Washington Post, Litman explained that the documents are the “mother lode” of information and can’t be dismissed as biased or under threat of prosecution. They’re black and white documents.
“Documents, unlike witnesses, don’t go south on you. The much-anticipated Bolton testimony is a prime example,” Litman wrote. “If and when [John] Bolton raises his right hand, he already will have crafted what he wants to say down to the word. And if, as is likely, he doesn’t want to mortally wound the president, he will do his best to avoid doing so.”
Bolton has refused to comply with subpoenas from the House, but said he would comply with Senate subpoenas. As a point of fact, subpoenas don’t generally allow witnesses to pick and choose which ones they comply with. Bolton has revealed, however, that he is writing an upcoming book that has all of the information in it that he would likely be questioned about.
Bolton reportedly called the scheme cooked up by Giuliani and President Donald Trump a kind of “drug deal.”
During his interview with Maddow, Parnas said that Bolton “knows everything” and that he was the one who went to Poland to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky instead of Vice President Mike Pence or Trump.
“And as Bolton illustrates, witnesses can also have multiple objectives — Bolton will be sworn to tell the truth, yes, but will he also have one eye on book sales, or his status with the public and his party, or some resentment with onetime rivals in Trump’s orbit?” wrote Litman. “They also have personality quirks that inevitably color testimony. Bolton, for instance, has a reputation as something of a hothead. That personality type presents certain opportunities for the deft trial lawyer, but it also can post an obstacle to getting at the truth.”
Finally, remember, witnesses can be rehabilitated by the other side. If a witness at first seems to bolster the House’s case, we can expect the softest of softballs from the Republican side to create at least some ambiguity. That’s tougher to do when the evidence is right there in black and white.
He closed by demanding “the Democratic House managers need to insist on complete compliance with their document requests.”