A recently released trove of documents from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, provides a glimpse inside the former New York City mayor’s murky efforts in Ukraine on the president’s behalf.
The dozens of pages of texts and other records, provided to congressional investigators by the Soviet-born Floridian and naturalized United States citizen, were released by the Democrat-led House Intelligence Committee on Monday evening, the day before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to transmit the Ukraine-related articles of impeachment alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress to the Republican-led Senate for a trial.
Parnas is currently in jail, along with another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, for his alleged role in an illicit scheme to funnel foreign funds to U.S. politicians.
The new texts reveal 2019 efforts by Giuliani and Parnas to remove the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, from her post in Kyiv. The ousted diplomat testified during House impeachment hearings last year that she was removed from her perch after a successful smear campaign by Giuliani and other Trump allies.
A set of texts between Parnas and Trump donor and GOP congressional candidate Robert Hyde seem to suggest Hyde knew people who were willing and able to surveil Yovanovitch inside Ukraine.
“They know she’s a political puppet. They will let me know when she’s on the move,” Hyde told Parnas. “Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money.“
“LOL,” Parnas texted back.
Numerous texts between Parnas and Giuliani show they were in communication about reaching out to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to have him announce investigations related to allegations of corruption against Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democrat. Hunter Biden held a lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings.
Communications in Russian also reveal Parnas was talking to former Ukrainian prosecutors Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko, who have both made a series of allegations about Biden-related malfeasance. The former vice president has bragged about successfully pressuring Ukraine’s previous president to fire Shokin. Biden critics have said he did so for nefarious reasons, while Biden’s defenders point to a wide agreement among leaders in the U.S., the EU, the International Monetary Fund, and even within Ukraine that Shokin was corrupt. Lutsenko took over for Shokin, and he was removed from the job last year.
A photograph of alleged meeting notes taken by Parnas on stationary from the Ritz Carlton in Vienna detail Giuliani’s plan to “get [Zelensky] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.”
The notes also reveal a plan to force Ukrainian oligarch and gas tycoon Dmitryo Firtash to fire longtime Clinton ally and Democratic lawyer Lanny Davis. Firtash has been fighting efforts by the Justice Department to extradite him to the U.S. from the Austrian capital for a long time. Davis worked for Firtash for years but was fired recently, and the oligarch is currently represented by conservative husband-and-wife legal duo Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. The notes show a plan to “get rid of Lanny Davis (nicely)” and for “Joe/Victoria” to “cut deal or get dismissed” in a likely reference to the DOJ’s foreign bribery case against Firtash.
Yovanovitch’s attorney, Lawrence Robbins, released a statement to NBC News on Monday night calling these revelations “disturbing.”
“Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing,” Yovanovitch’s lawyer said. “We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.”