This week, former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy appeared on Fox News to discuss the upcoming impeachment trial in the United States Senate.
During the segment, hosts Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith played a clip from a recent interview conducted by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow with Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.
PARNAS: I didn’t feel that they were trying to get me out, and at that point, I had a meeting with John Dowd and [Kevin] Downing inside the jail, and John Dowd just, instead of comforting me and, you know, trying to calm me down, telling me like it’s going to be okay, like don’t worry, basically start[ed] talking to me like a drill sergeant …
MADDOW: Were they telling you to sacrifice yourself in order to protect the president?
PARNAS: That’s what I felt.
After introducing Gowdy to the program, Smith asked: “So, what is your response when you hear that?”
Gowdy replied, urging viewers to watch the entire interview:
I would encourage your viewers to listen to the entire interview, not just the snippets. Remember, Parnas was upset because he expected Giuliani and Trump to come to his defense. This is a guy charged with falsifying records, making a false statement, conspiracy to defraud the FEC. He’s upset – by the way, John Dowd is not Trump’s former lawyer; that’s not how I would characterize him. He is Parnas’ hand-picked lawyer. That’s who hired John Dowd and Kevin Downing. It was Lev Parnas. So, if he’s upset that he hired these two, he’s got nobody to blame but himself. He wanted Giuliani and Trump to come to his defense in these three charges that he’s facing. That’s why he’s upset. You only get that from watching the entire interview, not from reading the stories and not from listening to that snippet.
Hemmer then queried: “Was he asked precisely – if he said the president knew exactly what he was doing, has he described what those meetings were about, or conversations were about? Have you heard that yet?”
Gowdy responded, tearing apart Parnas’ credibility in the process:
You know, Bill, what I didn’t hear was the follow-up. “Okay, with total certitude, you say President Trump knew what you were doing. Convince us of that. Give us the evidence.” Remember, he also said that Bill Barr was in the loop and then when cited for evidence, he said, “Well, he’s friends with diGenova and Toensing, and his name was mentioned in [the] transcript.” If that’s the only evidence you have that Bill Barr is part of a conspiracy to defraud the United States and get a foreign government to investigate a political opponent, if the only evidence you have is who he’s friends with and his name was mentioned in the transcript, that ain’t much evidence … so, I need to hear the follow-up questions.
…the way lawyers interview people, when you cross-examine them, Parnas gave three different answers to the same question about Mike Pence. His first answer is, “I’m absolutely certain Pence knew about it,” and then about three seconds later he said, “Well, he had to have, right?” and then the last answer was, “Well, it was possible.” Those three answers don’t do you well in the courtroom. They do great if you’re writing headlines; they do not do well in the courtroom.
Following Gowdy’s answer, Smith shifted to Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “Well, Nancy Pelosi didn’t rule out the possibility of talking to him in this impeachment process. I mean, what are we supposed to think the impact of those interviews are going to have as this impeachment trial is officially underway now?”
Gowdy replied, castigating Pelosi for seemingly having such a “low threshold” for smearing an individual like Bill Barr:
I was stunned at how little it takes in Speaker Pelosi’s eyes to call for special counsel. You have someone who’s under indictment, a Ukrainian under indictment that no one would have believed six months ago, who says that it’s possible that Bill Barr may have been in on it based on the fact that his name was in a transcript – and she’s willing to call for special counsel. I mean, I think the threshold for besmirching someone’s reputation, particularly someone like Bill Barr, ought to be a little higher than relying on one of six or seven different answers that Lev Parnas gave to the same question in an MSNBC interview.
Gowdy added that “if you’re going to make Lev Parnas the center of your impeachment prosecution,” one has to be ready to call numerous other witnesses in order to assess the credibility of Parnas’ claims, which could lead to a months-long trial.