The House impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden began Thursday with a big moment and an early vote before even hearing from four impeachment inquiry witnesses.
In his opening statement, House Oversight Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, D-Md., called for subpoenas of former Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas, but that motion was quickly tabled in a 20-19 vote along party lines.
Raskin alleged Giuliani and Parnas were "at the heart" of "concocting" the Biden-Ukraine bribery allegations as a "thoroughly demolished lie" and "the Burisma conspiracy theory."
Before calling for the roll-call vote on the motion to table Raskin's call for subpoenas, Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., questioned Raskin's characterization of Giuliani and Parnas as "key figures."
"Key figures of what?" Comer shot back.
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, quickly called to table Raskin's motion for subpoenas and it was seconded, leading to the party-line vote to get the first impeachment inquiry hearing officially started with the opening statements of the four witnesses.
The four witness included: Legal expert Jonathan Turley, Eileen O'Connor, former assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice Tax Division, Bruce Dubinsky, an expert witness in forensic accounting, and law professor Michael Gerhardt.
Parnas was an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was a figure in former President Donald Trump's first impeachment investigation. He was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes by a judge who said fraud had become "a way of life" for Parnas.
Parnas, 50, had sought leniency on grounds that he'd cooperated with the Congressional probe of Trump and his efforts to get Ukrainian leaders to investigate President Joe Biden's son.
The judge also ordered Parnas to pay $2.3 million in restitution.
The criminal case against Parnas was not directly related to his work acting as a fixer for Giuliani as the former New York City mayor lobbied Ukrainian officials to launch an investigation of Biden's son, Hunter.
Instead, it zeroed in on donations Parnas had illegally made to a number of U.S. politicians using the riches of a wealthy Russian to jump-start a legal recreational-marijuana business.
Parnas also pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy, admitting that he and a partner had given investors false information about a Florida-based business, Fraud Guarantee, that promised it could protect people against fraud.
That new company hired Giuliani as a consultant at a time when some Ukrainian figures were trying to curry favor with the Trump administration, agreeing to pay him $500,000.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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