House Democrats release more materials from Lev Parnas

Olivia Gazis

House Democrats on Friday released more material from indicted businessman Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who helped him in his pressure campaign against Ukraine. The new photographs, documents, audio clips and text exchanges shed additional light on the claims that Parnas has made about his interactions with figures close to President Trump, as well as with a key staffer of the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes.

Among the text messages are screenshots sent by Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde to Parnas of messages from an unknown, Belgium-based number. That number appears to relay information to Hyde about the whereabouts of former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly removed from her role at Mr. Trump's request last May.

"Nothing has changed she is still not moving they checked today again," the unknown contact writes in one exchange.

There are also numerous text exchanges dating back to February 2019 between Parnas and Derek Harvey, a senior aide to Nunes. In one exchange, after Parnas sent Harvey a video apparently featuring a conservative columnist for The Hill titled, "John Solomon on the Ukrainian Plot to Help Clinton," Harvey asked Parnas, "Any documents for us or are you going to keep working through [John] Solomon?"

The two spoke several times about meeting in person at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. Parnas also appeared to arrange an interview for Harvey and another committee staff lawyer with senior Ukrainian officials including Viktor Shokin, the Ukrainian prosecutor ousted from his role by then-Vice President Biden for failing to pursue corruption cases.

Harvey also discussed sending an "official letter" whose contents and recipient are unclear.

House impeachment investigators previously released call records showing phone calls exchanged between Parnas, Giuliani and Nunes, whose contact information Harvey appears to supply in an April message to Parnas.

A spokesman for Nunes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The documents released Friday are the latest in a series that Democrats have made public ahead of the start of the impeachment trial in the Senate. House impeachment managers, who are being led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, are expected to file their trial brief by Saturday afternoon.

Parnas, a U.S. citizen who was born in Ukraine while it was still part of the Soviet Union, was indicted on campaign finance charges along with another associate in October. He soon offered to cooperate with congressional investigators and recently received permission from a judge to hand over his records to the House Intelligence Committee, which led the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Friday's release also included several text messages with Giuliani that involve John Dowd, who used to be the president's attorney. Earlier this week, Parnas told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he met Dowd through Giuliani after he was called to cooperate with Congress in the impeachment inquiry against the president. Parnas said he asked Giuliani to recommend a lawyer, and Giuliani suggested Dowd, who may still do work on Mr. Trump's behalf. 

Documents Parnas provided to the House include text messages with Giuliani about Dowd. The texts show Parnas, who frequently addressed Giuliani as "my brother," asking Giuliani about retaining Dowd. Giuliani told him Dowd was "willing to do it," and gave Parnas Dowd's contact information.  

"Call Dowd," Giuliani wrote on September 30, 2019.

"Calling now," Parnas responded seconds later. And, after another half hour, "I spoke with him[.]" 

After some back and forth between Parnas, Dowd, and Sekulow, Dowd agreed to represent him, Parnas told Maddow. But the relationship didn't last long: Parnas fired Dowd after he he was indicted, telling Maddow that he felt Dowd had tried to convince him keep his mouth shut and take the fall for Mr. Trump. 

Dowd contested Parnas' claim in a statement to CBS News on Friday night. "No one instructed Parnas to sacrifice for POTUS," he said.

The new material also includes photos of Parnas with Mr. Trump and a number of photos of him with Giuliani. Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied knowing Parnas. 

—Catherine Herridge contributed reporting.

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