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Pelosi calls for witnesses at Trump trial after new evidence

NBC News logo NBC News 1/15/2020 Jane C. Timm
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke out about newly-released documents linking President Donald Trump directly to his attorney Rudy Giuliani's political digging in Ukraine, saying they highlighted the need for witness testimony at the impeachment trial.

"There can be no full & fair trial in the Senate if Leader McConnell blocks the Senate from hearing witnesses and obtaining documents President Trump is covering up," Pelosi said in a tweet on Wednesday. 

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"The President has fought tooth-and-nail to keep thousands of documents away from the public," the speaker said in another tweet. "And no wonder — each time new pieces come out, they show President Trump right at the center of the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals."

The documents — part of the evidence turned over to House impeachment investigators by lawyers for Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate who is awaiting trial on campaign finance charges — include a letter from Giuliani requesting a private meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, then the president-elect of Ukraine, with Trump's "knowledge and consent."

The letter, written on Giuliani's letterhead, was dated May 10, 2018.

Trump has previously tried to distance himself from his attorney's Ukraine work, saying in November, "I didn't direct him."

But the documents, which were released on Tuesday by House Democrats, appear to bolster House Democrats' claim that Trump was more than aware of Giuliani's efforts to find dirt in Ukraine on political rival Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accompanied by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leaves a meeting with the Democratic Caucus at the Capitol on Jan. 14, 2020. © Jose Luis Magana Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accompanied by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., leaves a meeting with the Democratic Caucus at the Capitol on Jan. 14, 2020.

House Democrats are expected to vote on sending the articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate, where Trump will be tried. Pelosi held the articles in the House for weeks, seeking to negotiate an agreement for witness testimony in the Senate. McConnell rebuffed her efforts to negotiate a deal, and the nation's third presidential impeachment trial in American history is set to begin next week.

The president complained earlier this week that he didn't receive a fair "trial" in the House of Representatives. Impeachment trials only occur in the Senate, while the House is charged with investigating and deciding whether a trial should occur.

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