What We Learned From The Phone Records Obtained In The Impeachment Probe

Lev Parnas leaves after his arraignment in the Southern District of New York court on October 23, 2019. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
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The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry revealed new details Tuesday about President Trump and his allies’ Ukraine pressure campaign — details that came in the form of phone records obtained by the House.

The phone records suggest Rudy Giuliani was in contact with the White House and with officials elsewhere in the administration at key moments as the Ukraine conspiracy theories were being elevated by Trump’s allies. On several occasions, after Giuliani connected with the White House switchboard, he would receive a phone call minutes later from an unknown number beginning with “-1.”

During the effort to smear U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from Ukraine just as the pressure campaign was heating up, Giuliani and his associates were also in contact with people instrumental in pushing the baseless claims against the longtime diplomat, according to the House report.

A Flurry Of Phone Calls As Solomon Publishes Ukraine Fodder

Lev Parnas, one of Giuliani’s indicted associates, was in contact with conservative journalist John Solomon, then an op-ed writer at The Hill, six times over the phone in the 48 hours before Solomon published a piece about Ukraine. The piece went after Yovanovitch while claiming Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

“On March 20, 2019, the day The Hill opinion piece was published, Mr. Parnas again
spoke with Mr. Solomon for 11 minutes,” the House report released Tuesday said. “Shortly after that phone call, President Trump promoted Mr. Solomon’s article in a tweet.”

On April 1, Solomon published a piece claiming that Joe Biden got a Ukrainian prosecutor ousted while the prosecutor was investigating a company linked to Biden’s son Hunter. On April 7, Solomon published a story connecting Yovanovitch to the Biden allegations.

“Between April 1 and April 7, Mr. Parnas exchanged approximately 16 calls with Mr. Giuliani (longest duration approximately seven minutes) and approximately 10 calls with Mr. Solomon (longest duration approximately nine minutes),” the report said.

The phone contacts in this period went beyond just Giuliani, Parnas and Solomon, according to the new report.

“Over the course of the four days following the April 7 article, phone records show contacts between Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Parnas, Representative Devin Nunes, and Mr. Solomon,” the report said. “Specifically, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Parnas were in contact with one another, as well as with Mr. Solomon. 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.”

Additionally, in early April, conservative lawyer Victoria Toensing was also in contact with Giuliani and Parnas. Toensing, along with her husband Joe diGenova, was briefly signed on to represent Trump during the Mueller investigation before dropping the job due to conflicts. The duo have connections to Solomon, and in mid-April, according to the new report, Toensing had signed retainer agreements with several Ukrainian officials who Solomon quoted as sources in his stories.

Giuliani Reaches Out To The White House As The Pressure Campaign Escalates

According to report, Giuliani spoke to Parnas multiple times on April 23 — the same day Giuliani tweeted the claim that Ukraine was investigating a DNC conspiracy involving Ukrainian operatives in 2016 — and had “a series of short phone calls (ranging from 11 to 18 seconds) with a phone number associated with the White House.”

Following that series of calls, there was an “eight minute, 28 second call with an unidentified number” that called Giuliani, according to the report.

“Approximately half an hour later, Mr. Giuliani had a 48 second call with a phone number associated with Ambassador John Bolton, National Security Advisor to the President,” the report sad.

The following day, April 24, Giuliani had “had three phone calls with a number associated with OMB, and eight calls with a White House number,” according to the report. He also went on Fox New to peddle the Biden allegations.

“One of the calls with the White House was four minutes, 53 seconds, and another was three minutes, 15 seconds. Later that evening, the State Department phoned Ambassador Yovanovitch and abruptly called her home because of ‘concerns’ from ‘up the street’ at the White House,” the report said.

On April 25, shortly after Solomon published another piece alleging an Obama-Ukraine 2016 election interference plot, Giuliani received a call from an unknown “-1” number that lasted four minutes and 40 seconds. “Minutes later, Mr. Giuliani held a brief 36 second call with Sean Hannity,” the report said, adding that Hannity hosted Trump on his show that evening and asked Trump about the Solomon story.

The following week, Trump continued to tout the conspiracy theories on Fox News, while FBI Director Chris Wray was asked at a May 7 congressional hearing about foreign interference in U.S. elections.

“On the morning of May 8, Mr. Giuliani called the White House Switchboard and connected for six minutes and 26 seconds with someone at the White House,” the report said. “That same day, Mr. Giuliani also connected with Mr. Solomon for almost six minutes, with Mr. Parnas, and with Derek Harvey, a member of Representative Nunes’ staff on the Intelligence Committee.”

On May 9, after the New York Times made public Giuliani’s plans to travel to Ukraine, Giuliani “connected in quick succession with Mr. Solomon and then Mr. Parnas for several minutes at a time,” according to the House report.

“Giuliani then made brief connections with the White House Switchboard and
Situation Room several times, before connecting at 1:43 p.m. Eastern Time with someone at the White House for over four minutes,” the report said. “He connected, separately, thereafter with Mr. Parnas several times in the afternoon and into the evening.”

That evening featured another Giuliani tweet and Fox News appearance peddling the allegations against the Bidens, and of Dem-Ukraine 2016 collusion.

The phone records show that within an hour of speaking to U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, Giuliani spoke with Kash Patel, a former Nunes staffer now on the National Security Council, for over 25 minutes.

Sondland Connects With The White House Before Trump-Zelensky Call

July 19, the day before Trump was originally scheduled to speak with Zelensky, a number associated with the White House called U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, according to the report. Sondland had been working with Volker and Giuliani on getting Ukraine to announce the investigations.

A few minutes later, Sondland called the number back and was connected for roughly seven minutes. The call back-and-forth was in addition to a July 19 email Sondland sent several top administration officials informing them of the push for Zelensky to assure Trump he’d open investigations.

More Phone Calls As Ukraine Push Focuses On An Investigation Announcement

The trail left by the phone records in the report picks up again in August, after a summer Volker, Giuliani and Sondland spent negotiating with Ukrainian officials about publicly announcing the investigation.

On August 8, the day after Volker texted Giuliani about securing a date for Ukraine’s President to visit the White House, Giuliani twice connected with the White House switch board in calls lasting under two minutes.

“The same day, Mr. Giuliani texted several times with a number associated with the White House,” the report said. “The Committees were unable to identify the official associated with the phone number. In the mid-afternoon, someone using a telephone number associated with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) called Mr. Giuliani, and the call lasted for nearly 13 minutes. Mr. Giuliani called the OMB number and the White House Situation Room several more times that evening, but each time connected for only a few seconds or not at all.”

Later that evening, Giuliani texted a White House-associated number and twice dialed numbers associated with the White House switchboard. “Approximately 16 minutes later, someone using the ‘-1’ number called Mr. Giuliani and connected for just over four minutes,” the report said.

The next morning, August 9, Volker sent Sondland and Giuliani a text referencing a Giuliani phone call that had pleased a top aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The aide mentioned to Volker a “statement” Zelensky would make, according to the text.

That day continued with more texts and calls between Giuliani, Sondland and Volker, as well as two Sondland calls to a White House number associated with OMB. The first call lasted about 18 minutes, and the second, about two and a half minutes, according the report. Minutes after the second report, Sondland texted Volker suggesting the White House was close to confirming a date for a Zelensky visit.

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