WASHINGTON - Impeachment investigators at the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a trove of documents to a Congressional committee from Lev Parnas, a close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as potential new evidence in the pending Senate impeachment trial of Trump.
The documents, including handwritten notes, e-mails, and phone records, were released on January 14 and provide fresh context on details about the prodding of Ukraine to pursue investigations into Trump’s political rivals as the president withheld military aid to the country.
They were sent by Representative Adam Schiff (Democrat-California), the House Intelligence Committee chairman, along with an enclosure that highlights the key aspects of the material as they relate to the impeachment proceedings.
One note, written by Parnas, says "get Zalensky to Annonce (sic) that the Biden case will be investigated."
In July, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate presidential front-runner Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm from 2014 until last year.
Among the documents was a previously undisclosed letter from Giuliani to Zelenskiy requesting a meeting in mid-May.
"In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you on this upcoming Monday, May 13th or Tuesday, May 14th," Giuliani’s letter said.
Parnas, who has pleaded not guilty to federal campaign-finance violations in a separate criminal case after being arrested on October 9, 2019, also tried to arrange a meeting between Zelenskiy and Giuliani.
On July 7, he texted Giuliani to say he was traveling to Vienna and "trying to get us mr Z."
Ukrainian Oligarch Firtash
Giuliani’s letter stated he would be accompanied in the meeting by Victoria Toensing, an attorney. She and her husband, attorney Joseph diGenova, are loyal Trump allies whose clients have included Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash.
Firtash is fighting extradition to the United States on bribery charges and federal prosecutors contend that Parnas tried to conceal $1 million he received from Firtash.
Parnas’s undated handwritten notes were produced on stationery from the Ritz-Carlton in Vienna, Austria.
The notes say Firtash’s lawyer Lanny Davis should be fired and be replaced by Toensing and diGenova. Regarding the lawyer couple, the notes also say a deal should be sealed in one to three months, either "cut a deal or get dismissed.”
The same note says that "Firtash" is "toxic."
On July 23, 2019, Davis filed a document with U.S. authorities saying he no longer represents Firtash.
Tracking of Yovanovitch
The documents also show Connecticut congressional candidate Robert Hyde disparaging former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and gave him updates on her location and mobile phone use, raising concerns about possible surveillance.
In March, "Mr. Hyde then sent a series of text messages suggesting that he had Ambassador Yovanovitch under physical surveillance," the attached enclosure to Schiff’s letter stated.
Using crude language, Hyde indicated to Parnas that Yovanovitch should be removed from her post.
In a cryptic message, Hyde wrote Parnas: "They are willing to help if we/you would like a price."
He added: "Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money..what I was told."
Yovanovitch, who was recalled a month later in April, called for an investigation into the messages through her lawyer Lawrence Robbins.
"Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing," her lawyer told U.S. media. "We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened."
When asked by CNN if he had been offering to harm Yovanovitch, Hyde replied in a text message: "No effing way."
"A preliminary review of...a voluminous record of data extracted...corroborates the findings and evidence related to the president’s scheme, which was laid out in the Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report, released by the [House Intelligence] Committee on December 3," the attached enclosure to Schiff’s letter said.
The Democrat-led House of Representatives in December charged Trump with abusing the power of his office for personal gain and obstruction of Congress.
Trump denies the charges and has called the impeachment proceedings a "witch hunt."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that on January 15 the legislative chamber "will vote on transmitting the articles of impeachment" to the Senate for a trial and name the impeachment managers.
The managers from the House will act as prosecutors in the impeachment trial while the role of senators, the majority of whom are Republicans, is that of a jury.
The presiding judge will be Chief Justice John Roberts who could have to rule on whether the new material is admissible if they appear in the trial. However, 51 senators could vote to overturn a chief justice’s decision, senators have said.