WASHINGTON (CN) – On the eve of transferring the articles of impeachment to the Senate, House Democrats have released a trove of explosive documents from Rudy Giuliani’s now-indicted associate Lev Parnas providing new evidence tied to the Ukraine scandal.
The batch of files expose covert surveillance of ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, ties to a Russian mafia-linked oligarch under federal indictment and intimate details of the pressure campaign on newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
A week before two central figures in the plot – Parnas and his accused co-conspirator Igor Fruman – were arrested, President Donald Trump personally signed off on their criminal defense attorney.
“The president consents to allowing your representation of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Furman [sic],” Trump’s current attorney Jay Sekolow wrote to the president’s former attorney, John Dowd, on Oct. 2, 2019.
The 59-page trove begins with a note Parnas scrawled on a notepad from the Ritz Carlton hotel in Vienna, Austria.
The first line in Parnas’ notes lays bare the plan to have Ukraine’s president investigate Trump’s political rival: “Get Zalensky [sic] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.”
Scanned copies of the handwritten notes released Tuesday – stamped on the bottom right by the U.S. Attorney’s office – repeatedly refer to attorneys for oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who is under federal indictment in the United States on bribery and racketeering charges.
Those Firtash attorneys include repeat Fox News commentators Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, as well as Michael Cohen’s counsel Lanny Davis.
After Zelensky won the election, Giuliani wrote him a letter requesting a meeting with him in mid-May 2018, bringing Toensing along with him as a guest.
“I will need no more than a half-hour of your time, and I will be accompanied by my colleague Victoria Toensing, a distinguished American attorney who is very familiar with this matter,” Giuliani wrote.
A week before Trump agreed to their legal counsel, Parnas and Fruman were detained at Washington’s Dulles Airport before they boarded a flight bound for Vienna. Firtash is currently living in Austria's capital city.
The coordinated effort to oust Yovanovitch, meanwhile, comes into focus through text messages Parnas exchanged with Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate.
“Wow. Can’t believe Trump hasn’t fired this bitch. I’ll get right in that,” Hyde texted Parnas in March 2019.
Routinely tracking Yovanovitch’s whereabouts through a contact with embassy access, Hyde passed the information along to Parnas.
“They know she’s a political puppet. They will let me know when she’s on the move,” Hyde texted Parnas, who responded: “Perfect.”
The next day Hyde alerted Parnas: “Update she will not be moved special security unit upgraded force on the compound people are already aware of the situation my contacts are asking what is the next step because they cannot keep going to check people will start asking questions.”
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Four House Democrat committee leaders – Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler of New York, Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff of California, Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney of New York and Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel of New York – said the new evidence confirms Trump and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation into the Bidens.
“During the impeachment inquiry, we issued a subpoena to associates of Rudy Giuliani who were involved in the president’s scheme,” they wrote. “One of those individuals is Lev Parnas, who responded to his subpoena by turning over a trove of documents that provide more information about the effort to coerce Ukraine into helping the president’s reelection campaign.”
Among the new documents are 21 pages of roughly translated conversations Parnas had with officials in the Ukrainian government and aides to Zelensky, as Parnas tried to gain access to the newly elected president.
In one message, Parnas passed a letter from Giuliani to a top Zelensky adviser, addressed to the Ukrainian president, asking for a meeting in his “capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent.”
Also on Parnas’ contact list was the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko – removed from office amid international pressure calling him corrupt – appearing in some messages to discuss investigations into Ukrainian gas company Burisma, where former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter served on the board. Lutsenko was often hostile toward Yovanovitch, at one point blasting Parnas for not succeeding in ousting the ambassador.
“And here you can’t even get rid of one [female] fool :(,” Lutsenko wrote to Parnas. [Emoticon in original]
“She’s not a simple fool [,] trust me,” Parnas responded. “But she’s not getting away.”
Looking to connect Giuliani with a member of Zelensky’s inner circle, Parnas contacted the head of Ukraine’s secret service agency, Ivan Bakanov, for help in May 2019.
Bakanov, a childhood friend of Zelensky, ran the former comedian’s campaign for president. He told Parnas he shared information with “Mr. President via the established channel,” but had not heard anything back.
After getting no further confirmation from Bakanov, Parnas sent him an article from the The New York Times detailing the work Giuliani was doing in Ukraine to secure investigations, which Trump mentioned in the now-infamous call with Zelensky.
As Parnas cultivated relationships with figures now at the center of the Ukraine scandal, he routinely shared articles on Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine, Biden and his son, and the unfounded theories that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
The Democrats also released text exchanges between Giuliani and Parnas outlining the Ukraine scheme’s inner workings. In July 2019, Parnas texted the president’s personal attorney: “Going to Vienna...trying to get us mr. Z.”
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