He’s still got “a lot” more secrets about Trump to share, he says, even after throwing pretty much Trump’s entire inner circle under the bus in a series of blockbuster interviews and document dumps.
But Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman who helped Rudy Giuliani dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine before flipping hard on Trump, has a problem. He ditched his first Congressional subpoena last fall, when he was still cool with Trump. And now, he’s facing serious criminal charges in New York. And Democrats are nervous about hanging their case to impeach Trump on the word of an accused felon.
So Parnas has a plan to get their attention. It involves selfies. Lots, and lots, of selfies.
He’s snapping fresh ones with newly-minted fans to help build pressure for his appearance. Meanwhile, he’s carpet-bombing Trumpworld with old ones he took with Trump’s inner circle that bolster his incendiary claims — and show just how explosive his testimony could be.
It’s a wild, provocative legal strategy that’d give most defense attorneys the cold sweats. Federal prosecutors accuse Parnas of channeling campaign donations to prominent Republicans from a Russian investor who was trying to score legal marijuana licenses, among other claims. Defendants facing serious charges like that don’t typically give tell-all interviews to Rachel Maddow, like Parnas did last week, for fear their own words might later be used against them in court.
But Parnas, who’s pleaded not guilty, has a lot to gain from his risky, high-profile confrontation with Trump. Testifying before Congress could help him win leniency in his criminal case, in which prosecutors have been coy about letting him become a cooperating witness.
If he succeeds in winning entry to Congress, Parnas could potentially one day argue to his judge that he cooperated fully in a case that was much, much bigger than his own: the impeachment of an American president. And that he therefore deserves a much lighter sentence than he otherwise might get.
Parnas has already handed over a vast trove of evidence to House Democrats, who’ve used the text messages and photographs on Parnas’ iPhone to bolster their impeachment case against Trump.
Parnas’ claims dovetail with the impeachment case against Trump. In December, the House impeached Trump for abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former vice president Biden. Democrats argue the caper represented an attempt by Trump to kneecap Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Parnas claims he personally pushed Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation of Biden on behalf of Trump and Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani — and that multiple key members of Trump’s team were all “in the loop.”
But before Parnas gets to deliver any such sworn testimony to Congress, he’s got to score an invitation. And to get one, he’s rolled out Operation Selfie.
His plan was in full effect Wednesday, when Parnas and his lawyers hit Capitol Hill, with a traveling circus of reporters, photographers and chanting supporters following along behind him.
He led them from Union Station to the Capitol building, pausing repeatedly for selfies with supporters on the street. Anti-Trump protestors banged drums and howled for Trump’s removal nearby, outside the Senate impeachment trial.
“The cover-up is getting bigger and bigger by the day.”