On Tuesday afternoon, the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees transmitted new evidence to the House Judiciary committee in the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
The new material comes courtesy of Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani’s indicted associate who has, at various intervals over the past three months, suggested he knows where all manner of figurative bodies are buried.
Parnas was arrested along with Igor Fruman in October, when the two men attempted to flee the country.
The new evidence includes phone records and WhatsApp messages – even notes scribbled on Ritz Carlton stationary, including one that reads “get Zalensky [sic] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated”.
It’s almost too stupid to be true – until you remember who’s involved, then it makes perfect sense.
As amusing as that is, some of the text messages are wholly unnerving. Specifically, it looks like Parnas, Giuliani and Robert F. Hyde, a Trump donor and Republican Congressional candidate, had Marie Yovanovitch tailed, although the relevant exchanges do not appear to include Giuliani.
“F–k that b–ch”, Hyde says, during one exchange that features a link to a tweet by Dan Bongino, a staunch Trump supporter and a household name in conspiracy theory circles. “Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this b–ch”, a subsequent message reads.
“She’s under heavy protection outside Kiev”, Hyde continues, before documenting what certainly sounds like a surveillance operation to monitor Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements.
“The guys over there asked me what I would like them to do, and what is in it for them”, Hyde says. “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off”.
Believe it or not, it gets considerably more intriguing (if that’s the right word).
“They are willing to help if we/you would like a price”, Hyde tells Parnas. “Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money”, he goes on to say, to which Parnas responds “lol”.
That is extremely ironic considering Giuliani’s ongoing efforts to bolster Trump’s “anti-corruption” narrative in Ukraine.
Bear in mind that this operation was being conducted at the behest of Giuliani, in his capacity as private counsel to Donald Trump, something Rudy makes clear in an actual May 10, 2019, letter to then-President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky. Here is what it says:
Dear President-Elect Zelensky: I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump. Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States. This is quite common under American law because the duties and privileges of a President and a private citizen are not the same. Separate representation is usual process.
However, I have a more specific request. 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. 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.
As the House Intelligence committee writes to Nadler, “Mr. Giuliani’s letter makes clear that his trip, which he publicly described at the time as an effort to ‘meddle in an investigation’, was undertaken with the knowledge and support of President Trump”.
If you’re wondering whether there are pictures of Trump with Hyde, the answer is “of course there are“. Or at least there’s one:
Until Tuesday, Hyde’s dubious claim to fame was a highly offensive tweet about Kamala Harris. On December 3, he tweeted this:
Went down, brought to her knees. Blew it. Must be a hard one to swallow. #KamalaHarris #heelsup”
Now, he’s (in)famous for something even worse.
You’re reminded that Giuliani’s plan in Ukraine, carried out with the help of Parnas, involved orchestrating the ouster of Ambassador Yovanovitch. “Basically, it was people in the Ukrainian Government who said that Mr. [Yuri] Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general, was in communication with Mayor Giuliani, and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me”, she told Congress in October.
In light of the text messages shown above, her assessment is even more chilling than it came across at the time of her testimony on Capitol Hill.
Other witnesses testified that Giuliani was a continual source of consternation and that he was told on numerous occasions that Lutsenko was not credible. It would later come to light that Giuliani was in talks to represent Lutsenko in proceedings aimed at recovering assets he said were looted from the Ukrainian government. The payment to Giuliani’s company would have been “at least” $200,000. Although the deal was never done, the negotiations took place while Giuliani was actively working to undermine Yovanovitch and dig up dirt on Joe Biden.
Toensing and Joe diGenova — the notorious husband-wife duo who worked off the books for Trump — were in similar negotiations.
There are also numerous messages from Giuliani regarding the effort to get Viktor Shokin (Lutsenko’s predecessor and the man who Biden had removed in keeping with official US policy and the wishes of both the EU and the IMF) a visa in order to bring him to the United States, presumably to deliver purported dirt on the Bidens directly to Trump administration officials. That effort ultimately failed.
Additionally, the new material provided by Parnas reveals the following (and we’re quoting from the Intelligence committee’s summary):
… on October 2, 2019, Jay Sekulow, personal counsel to the President, informed President Trump’s former attorney John Dowd that he had discussed with President Trump “the issue of representation” and that President Trump “consents to allowing your representation of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman”.
That email was sent three days after the Committee sent Parnas and Fruman a request to voluntarily produce records and testify before the investigating Committees. On October 3, the day after Sekulow’s letter was sent to Dowd, Dowd wrote to the Committee to clarify that he represented Parnas and Fruman, advising that, “Mssrs. Parnas and Fruman assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump”. One week later, Parnas and Fruman were arrested. Parnas changed counsel thereafter and, on October 30, 2019, informed the Committee that he wanted to comply its request and subpoena.
Clearly, all of this is damning in the extreme, and it comes less than a month after e-mails released by the Center for Public Integrity showed, among other things, that the Office of Management and Budget had misgivings about orchestrating a delay in the disbursement of congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine.
“These documents demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the President’s scheme, but they have been concealed by the President himself”, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel said Tuesday, in a statement. “All of this new evidence confirms what we already know: the President and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit the President politically”.
The Daily Beast managed to get a comment out of Hyde on Tuesday night. “Bull Schiff is a giant b*tch”, he texted. Hyde is already using his newfound notoriety to raise money.