When Rudy Giuliani wanted to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May 2019, he made sure to emphasize one thing.
“I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump,” Giuliani wrote. “Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States.”
The thread runs throughout the texts released by former Giuliani henchman Lev Parnas to House panels investigating the President over the weekend.
“I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the president,” Parnas told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow Wednesday evening.
He added that every contact he had with Ukrainian officials occurred at the direction of Giuliani, and that Ukrainian officials were told that Parnas was acting on behalf of the Trump attorney who was, in turn, acting on behalf of the President.
The texts pick up in November 2018, with Parnas and Giuliani arranging a meeting with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) at Shelly’s Backroom, a D.C. cigar bar.
Throughout the texts, Giuliani alludes to the Mueller investigation, in terms half-serious and half-facetious.
“On tarmac for almost one hour. I think Mueller knew I was on this plane and is delaying it so he gets me to say whatever he wants me to say,” Giuliani texted Parnas in December 2018.
By January, Parnas was asking Giuliani for help with Ukrainian officials. Notably, he told the Trump attorney that the visa of former Ukraine general prosecutor Viktor Shokin was “declined.”
“I can revive it,” Giuliani replied.
Shokin plays a crucial role in the extended universe of conspiracy theories around Joe Biden and Ukraine. In the fumes of right-wing fever swamps, Biden used his influence as Vice President to pressure Ukraine to fire Shokin in a bid to protect his son, Hunter, from a Ukrainian investigation.
Or, as Giuliani described it in a May text to Parnas, “Bribery is universally defined as offering something of value (the 1.2 billion loan guarantee) to affect official action (firing Shokin, taking the Burisma case for big money).”
Elsewhere in the documents, Giuliani notes that he is acting in his capacity as an attorney for the President.
At one point, Giuliani refers to a phone call with “the big guy,” and at another moment gives Parnas contact information for Trump attorney Jay Sekulow. He also drafts statements issued as Trump’s attorney in the texts with Parnas, and references meeting with the President.
That led Giuliani in interesting directions via Parnas as time went on.
The last text between the two of them is Giuliani “liking” a message Parnas sent him.
The October 9 message contained a link to a story from Ukraine’s wire service, Interfax-Ukraine, about a press conference where a Ukrainian MP named Andriy Derkach claimed that Burisma paid Joe Biden $900,000 for lobbying.
But the timing of the message suggests that another source had begun to feed evidence to Giuliani via Parnas.
Twenty-five minutes before sending the Interfax story to Giuliani, Parnas received a Russian-language version of the article from a Ukrainian oligarch named Ihor Kolomoisky.
Parnas replied to Kolomoisky at 8:59, Greenwich Mean Time. Nine minutes later, he sent an English-language version of the story to Giuliani.
Giuliani would later meet Derkach, the MP who made the unsubstantiated allegation in the article, in Kyiv in December.
TPM reported that Giuliani was receiving information from people tied to Kolomoisky while on the trip. Kolomoisky faces numerous legal problems in the United States, including an FBI investigation.
One day after Parnas sent Giuliani the link, he was intercepted by FBI agents at Washington-Dulles airport and arrested before leaving the country.