The Senate impeachment trial has officially started
When asked about Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas today, Vice President Mike Pence said, “I don’t know the guy."
Pence called Parnas' charge that he was aware that all outreach to Zelensky was about getting Ukraine to investigate the Bidens “completely false.”
What is this all about: Parnas — the Soviet-born businessman whose work in Ukraine with Giuliani stands at the center of the impeachment inquiry — implicated the President yesterday in an interview with CNN.
Parnas, who was indicted on campaign finance charges last year, said that their efforts were "all about 2020" and not about working in the interest of the United States.
Parnas also alleged that Pence did not attend Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration because Ukraine had not announced an investigation into Joe Biden.
The following video shows Parnas discussing Pence with CNN's Anderson Cooper:
President Trump strongly supported his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, while speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, calling him “one of the great crime fighters in the history of our country.”
When asked about a letter that Giuliani allegedly wrote that says the President was aware of his activities in Ukraine, Trump said he wasn’t aware of it.
“I don’t know anything about the letter, but certainly Rudy is one of the great crime fighters in the history of our country,” the President said.
“He was also the greatest mayor in the history of the New York,” he added.
“Having him on my side is a great honor for me,” Trump continued, saying that Giuliani did a, “phenomenal job over a long period of time in fighting crime.”
“I didn’t know about a specific letter, but if he wrote a letter it wouldn’t be a big deal,” Trump said.
President Trump’s acting budget director Russ Vought just tweeted on the Government Accountability Office's report that said the Trump administration violated the law by withholding Ukraine aid.
In his tweet, Vought said the administration “complied with the law at every step.”
Vought was subpoenaed by House committees during the House impeachment inquiry last year but never appeared.
Read his tweet:
We’re on Capitol Hill, where the third Senate impeachment trial of a US president has officially begun.
CNN’s Lauren Fox is there. What questions do you have for her?
Watch her live here:
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Lev Parnas’ allegations and the Government Accountability Office's report “strengthen our push” for witnesses and documents in the Senate trial.
He added that “no witnesses would be a dramatic break with precedent.”
During a news conference, Schumer said he expects votes on Tuesday to try to force Republicans to take a position on witnesses. But he said he won’t know for sure until he sees Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s organizing resolution.
About Parnas and the report: Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman whose work in Ukraine with President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani stands at the center of the impeachment inquiry, implicated the President Wednesday in an interview with CNN in which he said that their efforts were "all about 2020" and not about working in the interest of the United States.
Earlier today, the GAO said the Trump administration broke the law when it withheld US security aid to Ukraine last year that had been appropriated by Congress, a decision that's at the heart of the House's impeachment case against Trump.
The GAO, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, said in a decision that the White House budget office violated the Impoundment Control Act, a 1974 law that limits the White House from withholding funds that Congress has appropriated.
President Trump just tweeted about his frustration with the impeachment proceedings.
In all caps, he tweeted:
About the call: On the July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden, his potential 2020 rival. Trump has pushed an unproven accusation that then-Vice President Biden improperly tried to help his son, Hunter, by pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire the country's prosecutor general. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company at the time.
President Trump said he was still planning on going to Davos next week even though the impeachment trial will be under way in the Senate.
The President is set to leave for the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Monday and the Senate is set to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
The President touted the economy in his answer and claimed that other world leaders tell him how “incredible” the US is doing economically. Trump said he planned to meet with both business and foreign leaders while he is in Davos.
President Trump, speaking to reporters today in the Oval Office, said the Senate impeachment trial "should go very quickly."
Trump called the proceedings a "hoax" and repeatedly insisted his phone call with Ukraine's president Zelensky was "perfect."
He denied any knowledge of a recently revealed letter from his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to Zelensky requesting a private meeting. In the letter, Giuliani wrote he had Trump's "knowledge and consent" for the request.
President Trump continues to insist he doesn't know Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who now says Trump was aware of efforts to surface dirt on political rivals.
Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump said he didn't know anything about Parnas, with whom he's posed with in photographs.
Trump said he takes thousands of photos at fundraisers, but suggested that did not mean he knows Parnas.
Trump said he did not believe he'd ever spoken to Parnas.
He added he would "probably" be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, despite the event coinciding with his impeachment trial.
Some context here: Parnas — a central figure in the White House's alleged Ukraine pressure campaign — said yesterday that Trump "knew exactly what was going on" despite his repeated denials of wrongdoing.
"He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President," Parnas told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "I have no intent, I have no reason, to speak to any of these officials."
Parnas asserted he was the one "on the ground" doing Trump and Giuliani's work, "and that's the secret that they're trying to keep."
WATCH: Lev Parnas tells Anderson Cooper 'Trump is lying'