A trove of new evidence in the impeachment case against President Donald Trump will be delivered to the Senate by the House Judiciary Committee, according to several House committee chairs who announced the news Tuesday.
The evidence includes new text messages and phone records from Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American business partner of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer. The trove also includes a letter Giuliani addressed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“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 wrote in the May 10 letter.
“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.
Parnas texted a copy of that draft letter to a Zelenskiy aide, according to House Democrats. That meeting was apparently canceled, but Parnas continued to try to schedule a meeting with Zelenskiy.
The documents shed new light on the president’s level of involvement in Giuliani’s efforts last spring to pressure the Ukrainian government to open investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
They also reveal that Trump personally agreed to let his former attorney, John Dowd, take on Parnas and his associate, Igor Fruman, as legal clients after the two were arrested in October on campaign finance charges.
The new information provided by Parnas, which includes copies of handwritten letters, phone records and other back-channel communications with foreign officials, was made public a day before the House votes to send the articles to the Senate for Trump’s impeachment trial.
The trial could begin as early as next Tuesday, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The Democrat-led House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees say that the 59 pages of records made public Tuesday night represent only a tiny fraction of the total number of documents that Parnas turned over.
The rest of the trove, some of which they said contains sensitive information, will be made available to members of relevant committees in the House, to members of the Senate and to the White House.
Democrats launched impeachment proceedings in the House in late 2019 to investigate Trump’s efforts to have Zelenskiy announce probes involving former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine and not Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Trump asked Zelenskiy to announce the probes while hundreds of millions of dollars in congressionally allocated military aid to Ukraine were being withheld without clear explanation.
“Despite the President’s unprecedented and sweeping obstruction of our impeachment inquiry, we have continued to collect additional evidence relevant to the President’s scheme to abuse his power by pressing Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election for the President’s benefit,” House Committee chairmen Jerrold Nadler, Adam Schiff, Carolyn Maloney and Eliot Engel said in a joint statement.
Some of that evidence includes screenshots of Parnas’ notes, written by hand on letterhead for the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Vienna, Austria.
As part of what appears to be a typo-ridden to-do list, Parnas wrote, “get Zalensky to Annouce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.”
On another page, Parnas wrote, “Get rid of Lenny Davis (nicely),” referring to Lanny Davis, a former criminal defense attorney for indicted Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash.
Davis, who now represents Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, told CNBC in a phone call: “I’ve never met, or knew about, Parnas until he surfaced after I stopped working for Mr. Firtash. I have no knowledge of the man.”
Davis adds that he worked for Firtash “exclusively as a criminal defense lawyer, and also correcting the public record, but never approaching politics.”
“That was a red line for me, and I am sad about Mr. Firtash’s current situation,” he said.
“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 Democratic chairmen said in their statement. “There cannot be a full and fair trial in the Senate without the documents that President Trump is refusing to provide to Congress.”
Trump has insisted throughout the impeachment inquiry that he had little knowledge of Giuliani’s Ukraine dealings.
As recently as last November, Trump was asked by former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine on Trump’s behalf. Trump replied that had no idea.
“You have to ask that to Rudy, but Rudy, I don’t, I don’t even know. I know he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled a trip. But, you know, Rudy has other clients other than me. I’m one person,” Trump told O’Reilly.
Giuliani has done “a lot of work in Ukraine over the years, and I think, I mean, that’s what I heard, I might have even read that someplace,” Trump said.
He also claimed not to know about Parnas and Fruman, who were working with Giuliani to press Ukraine officials into helping Trump by damaging Biden, Trump’s 2020 presidential rival.
“I don’t know those gentlemen,” Trump said of Parnas and Fruman last October, after they were arrested at an airport carrying one-way plane tickets out of the U.S.
“Now, it’s possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “Somebody said there may be a picture or something at a fundraiser or somewhere. But I have pictures with everybody … I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy.”
But an email between Dowd and Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow, released Tuesday as part of the cache of new evidence, suggests Trump knew the two Giuliani associates previously.
“John, I have discussed the issue of representation with the President,” Sekulow wrote to Dowd on Oct. 2 — eight days before Trump denied knowing Parnas and Fruman.
“The President consents to allowing your representation of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman,” Sekulow wrote.