New evidence released by Congress Wednesday evening from Lev Parnas’ iPhone spells out, in even clearer terms, Rudy Giuliani’s role in the Ukraine pressure campaign.
In texts and documents that added to two other tranches of records released in recent days, Giuliani makes it explicit that President Donald Trump wants political dirt from Ukraine, and that he’s willing to play hardball to get it.
Perhaps the clearest example came in March, after the then-prosecutor general of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, gave an interview to John Solomon, the conservative journalist then working at The Hill.
After Parnas sent Giuliani a copy of the interview between Solomon and Lutsenko, Giuliani expressed frustration with it.
“I’ve got nothing,” he texted Parnas. “The anti corruption prosecutor made some very weak comments that are equivocal at best. And not consistent with the facts. Story would get blown up. Don’t want to lead with my weakest hand.”
Giuliani told Parnas he needed Ukraine’s then-president, Petro Poroshenko, as well as Lutsenko “on the record about the ambassador and Biden. Can you make it happen?”
Claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch would become central storylines that Trump pursued in his pressure campaign on Ukraine. In late April, Yavonovich was recalled to the United States after a smear campaign by Giuliani and Parnas.
Lutsenko opposed Yovanovitch and wanted her removed as ambassador, other documents have made clear. In exchange for smearing her, Giuliani and Parnas were aiming to get useful political dirt from Lutsenko. Giuliani pressed Trump several times to recall the ambassador, he’s acknowledged, alleging that she spoke badly about the President behind his back.
Nearly a year before Yovanovitch’s recall, in June 2018, photos on Parnas’ phone that were shared with Congress appear to show him passing off a letter from Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to President Donald Trump that smeared Yovanovitch.
In February, conservative attorney Victoria Toensing, who was deeply involved in Giuliani and Parnas’ efforts in Ukraine, appeared to bring up the ambassador in a text exchange with Giuliani.
“Is there absolute commitment for HER to be gone this week?” she asked Giuliani.
“Yes not sure how absolute Will get a reading in morning and call you,” Giuliani responded. “Pompeii [sic] is now aware of it. Talked to him on Friday.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to testify in the House’s impeachment inquiry, but he’s a key witness to the pressure campaign, and Democrats want him to testify in the Senate’s impeachment trial.
In early May, after Yovanovitch had been recalled, Giuliani acknowledged the pressure campaign to Parnas but mocked his critics.
“Boy I’m so powerful I can intimidate the entire Ukrainian government,” he said. “Please don’t tell anyone I can’t get the crooked Ambassador fired or I did three times and she’s still there.”
A few days later, the texts reveal the pressure campaign in real time: President-elect of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky had cancelled a planned meeting with Giuliani after a New York Times article brought attention to his Ukraine dealings.
In response, Giuliani texted Parnas that “I am going to say I have been informed the people advising PRES ELEC are no friends of the President.” He later tweeted the message publicly, putting more pressure on Zelensky. A few months later, Giuliani met with a top Zelensky aide, Andriy Yermak, in Madrid.
Read the Parnas documents below:
- -Hiring More Journalists
- -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism