Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Parnas, former Ukraine fixer, shows up outside Trump trial

© Reuters. Lev Parnas enters Senate office building on Capitol Hill after arriving in Washington© Reuters. Lev Parnas enters Senate office building on Capitol Hill after arriving in Washington

By Katanga Johnson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lev Parnas, an indicted businessman who says he worked to pressure Ukraine to investigate one of President Donald Trump's political rivals, created a chaotic sideshow Wednesday as he traveled to Washington for Trump's impeachment trial.

Trailed by TV cameras, photographers and a sign that read "FAIR TRIAL," Parnas posed for selfies with a pink-hatted woman as he walked from Union Station to the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to view the Senate's trial.

"It's a surreal feeling," Parnas said. "Right now I'm just going on adrenaline."

Parnas stopped by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer's office to pick up tickets to the trial, but it was not clear whether he would be allowed to see it.

No electronics are allowed in the Senate visitors' gallery - a rule that could apply to the ankle bracelet he has been ordered to wear as he awaits trial on federal campaign finance charges. The Senate is due to convene at 1:00 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).

Parnas' appearance comes as the Senate moves towards a climactic showdown over whether they should hear from witnesses and consider other evidence in the trial, as Democrats want, or move toward a final vote on whether Trump should be removed from office, as many Republicans want.

Parnas has offered to testify in the impeachment trial, though Democrats have shown little interest in calling him as a witness.

The Ukrainian-born businessman's arrival, advertised beforehand on social media by his attorney, drew bullhorn-wielding protesters, police, and a swarm of media

Earlier this month, Parnas handed over text messages and other correspondence that detailed his efforts to work with Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to get Ukraine to announce that it would open a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential election.

Parnas is seeking leniency as he faces federal charges for allegedly funneling money to a pro-Trump election committee. [nL2N26V23N]

Giuliani has distanced himself from Parnas, and Trump says he did not know him, despite photographs showing the two men together and a recording of Trump bantering about golf and Ukraine with Parnas and other guests at a private dinner at the Trump Hotel. [nL1N29V00D]

Original Article ©Copyrights Reuters

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