It’s Thursday, January 16. Impeachment managers have been assigned. The articles of impeachment have been read to the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts and the senators have been sworn in. The trial resumes next week.
In today’s newsletter: Who is Lev Parnas again? Plus, the constitutionality of the ERA, and bipartisan kumbaya in Kansas (spoiler: it worked).
(Mike Segar / Reuters)
Impeachment is now in the hands of the Senate. But the reemergence of Lev Parnas reinvigorated old demands for new witnesses to be called for the trial.
Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and one of the shadier figures affiliated with the Ukraine affair, took to MSNBC last night to further implicate President Trump in the efforts to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into the Bidens.
If you remember from season one of this drama: Parnas was one of two Giuliani clients arrested at Dulles Airport back in October, allegedly trying to board a one-way flight to Vienna. (In season two: Vienna was Giuliani’s intended destination 24 hours after the arrests, my former colleague Elaina Plott reported.)
Fast forward to the latest season: The House Intelligence Committee released new documents Parnas had turned over, materials that show supposed surveillance of former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and include plenty of claims that Trump “knew exactly” what was going on when it came to dealings with Ukraine.
While his allegations should be taken with a grain (or a full cup) of salt, the new Parnas allegations bring back an old point: So much more is still unknown.
As my colleague David Graham writes:
[Parnas’s] claims can’t be believed at anything near face value. Yet they also cannot be dismissed out of hand, for the stakes are too high. As long as it’s Parnas’s story versus Trump’s, the question is which proven liar to trust.
(RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / GETTY)
“The mainland usually ignores the U.S.-controlled island, but the president shows active hostility in its time of need.”
And, the University of Puerto Rico professor Pedro Reina-Pérez writes from San Juan, “regrettably, this episode is far from over.”
(Steve Helber / AP)
“And without quite saying so, the opinion claims that right of decision for none other than Attorney General William Barr.”
Virginia ratified the Equal Rights Amendment this week. But the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has said that the Congress can’t determine the validity of an amendment ratified after missing its deadline. Dueling court cases involving this 1970s-era rule imposing a time limit are wending through courts now.
But the power to decide on constitutional amendments belongs to Congress, and not at all the White House, the law professor Garret Epps argues.
+ More on the ERA: Neither the president nor the Supreme Court has any assigned role in constitutional amendments. The final steps fall to one obscure federal employee, now named in two lawsuits about the ERA.
Kansas’s Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, struck a deal with Republicans to expand Medicaid. (MARK REINSTEIN / MEDIAPUNCH / IPX / AP)
Are we not in Kansas anymore?
A Democrat worked with a Republican to pass health care legislation that dramatically expands publicly funded insurance coverage.
If that sounds like a Joe Biden bipartisan dream, it is—but it was also reality in Kansas. Russell Berman writes:
No state has seen a more rancorous debate over the issue than Kansas, the home base of the Koch empire, where a decade-long battle over taxes and spending has deepened fissures between the conservative and moderate Republicans who control the state legislature.
Today’s newsletter was written by Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.
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