Without Witnesses, Senate Trial Will Be ‘Fake,’ House Impeachment Manager Rep. Sylvia Garcia Says06:42
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Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Trump. (Jose Luis Magana-Pool/Getty Images)
Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Trump. (Jose Luis Magana-Pool/Getty Images)

The seven House impeachment managers named by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally delivered the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate on Wednesday. The Senate trial is set to begin on Tuesday.  

In the midst of all this, Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has been making astonishing claims in a series of interviews.

All aid to Ukraine, not just military aid, was conditional on Ukraine announcing an investigation of Joe Biden, Parnas says. He also alleges Trump and all of the top players on his team were in on it, including Attorney General William Barr. The Justice Department denied Parnas’ claims.

“I think what's important is that it underscores our point that we do need to have the ability to have witnesses testify in this trial,” says Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a Texas Democrat who is one of the seven House impeachment managers. “And we do need to make sure that all the documents that are relevant to this case are made available to the committee so that we can present as evidence to the Senate.”

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn, in particular, would be key to the trial, Garcia says.

“We have tried to get Don McGahn before us during the whole investigation. Of course, he was ordered not to appear as all witnesses were ordered not to appear,” she says. “So for me, I've always wanted to see McGahn, but that's just me, Sylvia Garcia today — and I'm trying to take my hat off as a manager for a moment — because I think some of the obstruction is something that he could talk about.”

Interview Highlights

On her reaction to recent interviews by Rudy Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas

“All along the president has stonewalled. He's ordered agencies not to cooperate. He's ordered witnesses not to testify. And if we don't have any witnesses at this trial, it will be the first time in the history of our country that we don't have witnesses testify at an impeachment trial. So it underscores our point. We are, like you, digesting the information. Our staff is going through it, and as soon as we can all the managers, we'll have a discussion and decide where to go from there.”

On Parnas’ claims that almost everyone in the Trump administration knew about the campaign to pressure Ukraine

“Well, it is a lot. And I think that the committee staff and all of us and all the managers will want to know more, see if there's any corroborating evidence. Just find out like who was where when and to make sure that did at all tie together? Because if everything he's saying is true and that's what we have to establish, then it, you know, builds our case. But again, it underscores the point that we have to be able to have the ability to present witnesses and present testimony so that we can make the very best case to the American people. Remember, this is all about protecting our democracy, protecting our Constitution and ensuring and showing to the American people that no one is above the law. And any witness or any documents that we can present to make that case that are relevant, then certainly we would want to do that.”

On how the impeachment trial will work

“I've been a judge. I know how trials are supposed to work. I think everyday Americans know how trials are supposed to work. There will be some amendments probably that will be submitted by the Senate to some senators to try to either ask for witnesses [and] ask for documents. And this is just my guess, because obviously we're not there yet. And then there'll be votes by the senators that [Chief Justice John Roberts] presides. So it's in that sense, it works like a trial. But we have to remember, this is really not a criminal trial, but it is kind of guided by some of the rules of a trial. And the hallmark of any trial is that, you know, again, everyday Americans know what that means. You know, it means witnesses. It means evidence. It means everybody, each side having a chance to give their side of the story and people telling the truth.”

On if the Parnas evidence will be included in the trial

“Because we want it presented doesn't mean that it's going to get in. You know, it would have to be a vote of the senators. And my understanding is that it would be a simple majority vote of the senators, that we will receive at the appropriate time up to the Senate. You know, the full rules and procedures and we will work through it. But again, I am not speaking for the managers. I don't want to get ahead of them.”

On why it’s important for witnesses to be included in the trial

“If we don't, then it is a fake trial. It's a rigged trial. It's a cover-up. So for me, it's especially as a judge that, you know, we all take an oath, and again, everyday Americans know what a trial looks like. I think it's interesting that most polls show that Americans do want a fair trial. Americans understand what it means to have a trial. They want to see a real trial. And they want to make sure that justice is done. And that's what we're going to be about.”


Lynn Menegon produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku Ray. Samantha Raphelson adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on January 16, 2020.

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