Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) just found himself more deeply entrenched in the impeachment inquiry.
House Intelligence Committee Democrats’ report surfaced a litany of new phone records Tuesday afternoon, revealing in part that ranking member Nunes was in communication with Rudy Giuliani during key aspects of his Ukraine pressure campaign.
In April, Nunes was in conversation with Giuliani and his indicted associate Lev Parnas on several occasions while the pair were also speaking with The Hill’s opinion writer John Solomon. The repeated contacts lined up with the publishing timestamps of several Solomon opinion pieces, which alleged former Vice President Joe Biden petitioned for the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son’s business interests and attacked former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Notably, many of the Ukrainian officials cited in Solomon’s pieces were being represented by Victoria Toensing, who briefly represented President Trump in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Yovanovitch and others have testified during the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearings that Giuliani led the effort to get her ousted from her post in Kyiv, primarily because she stood in the way of Giuliani’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Biden, one of President Trump’s key political rivals.
“Phone records also show contacts on April 10 between Mr. Giuliani and Rep. Nunes, consisting of three short calls in rapid succession, followed by a text message, and ending with a nearly three minute call. Later that same day, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Solomon had a four minute, 39 second call,” the report said.
Two days later, Nunes spoke to Parnas on the phone for about 10 minutes total in a series of back-and-forth calls, according to the report, which noted that April 12 was the same day that Toensing signed a retainer agreement with former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who’s had a key role in peddling the Biden conspiracies and who Solomon used as his main source in the pieces published by The Hill that month.
A month later, on May 8, around the time that Giuliani was preparing to take a trip to Ukraine to try to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy officials to continue his investigations push, Nunes staffer Derek Harvey spoke to Giuliani on the phone for more than six minutes. The report also notes that Nunes was scheduled to have a secure phone call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in early April, around the same time that Pompeo is on record having a series of calls with Giuliani.
While it’s unclear what exactly was discussed during those calls, the timing is significant. Just last month, several reports surfaced pulling Nunes closer to the Ukraine pressure campaign, which has formed the basis of the House’s impeachment inquiry. Nunes sits on one of the key committees probing the allegations.
Last month, The Daily Beast reported that Parnas helped Nunes arrange calls and meetings in Europe in 2018 to pursue his “investigations.” Just a few days later CNN reported that Nunes met with a Ukrainian former prosecutor general, Victor Shokin, in Vienna in December of 2018. Shokin is at the heart of the conspiracy theory that Giuilani and Trump have cited in urging Ukraine to investigate the Biden family.
Around the time the report was released on Tuesday, the Washington Times reported that Nunes had filed another one of his widely criticized defamation lawsuits against a major news outlet. According to the Times, Nunes is now suing CNN for $435 million over the story on his alleged meetings with Shokin.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) was predictably tight-lipped about the call records involving his colleague cited in the report, telling reporters only that he found the allegations “deeply concerning.”
“It is, I think, deeply concerning that at a time when the President of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity,” he said. “Now, there’s a lot more to learn about that and I don’t want to state that that is an unequivocal fact but the allegations are deeply concerning.”
Schiff calls revelations about Nunes in his committee's report "deeply concerning" pic.twitter.com/lHj1M89Ifu
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) December 3, 2019
Parnas lawyer Joseph Bondy, who spoke to CNN for its piece on Nunes meeting with Shokin, called on the lawmaker to at least recuse himself from ongoing negotiations.
Devin Nunes, you should have recused yourself at the outset of the #HIC #ImpeachingHearings. #LetLevSpeak https://t.co/HeG8kFEDwl
— Joseph A. Bondy (@josephabondy) December 3, 2019