Thu, Jan 16, 2020 - Page 7 News List

Democrats release documents on eve of Trump trial


Dusk falls over the US Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Democrats in the US House of Representatives have released a trove of documents they obtained from Lev Parnas, a close associate of US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, including a handwritten note that mentions asking Ukraine’s president to investigate “the [former US vice president Joe] Biden case.”

The documents, obtained as part of the impeachment investigation into Trump, show Parnas communicating with Giuliani before the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, who was the US ambassador to Ukraine.

A man named Robert Hyde disparaged Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas, and gave him updates on her location and cellphone use, raising questions about possible surveillance.

Democrats released the files on Tuesday as they prepared to send articles of impeachment to the US Senate for Trump’s trial.

The documents add new context to their charges that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he withheld military aid.

Parnas was in frequent communication with Giuliani and with Ukrainian officials, the messages show.

He appeared to be pushing unsubstantiated allegations that Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, were somehow engaged in corruption in Ukraine.

Among the documents is a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dated May 10 last year, which was before Zelenskiy took office.

In the letter, Giuliani requests a meeting with Zelenskiy “as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent.”

In the letter, Giuliani said he would be accompanied at the meeting by Victoria Toensing, a Washington attorney and Trump ally.

One of the documents is a handwritten note on stationery from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that says “get Zalensky to Annonce [sic] that the Biden case will be Investigated.”

Trump asked Zelenskiy in a July last year telephone call to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden served on the board of a gas company based in Ukraine.

Democrats said that Parnas’ attorney confirmed that Parnas wrote the notes.

The documents — including phone records, texts and flash drives turned over by Parnas — were sent to the House Judiciary Committee by three other House panels “to be included as part of the official record that will be transmitted to the Senate along with the Articles of Impeachment,” a statement said.

Some of the materials were made public, while others were marked as sensitive.

Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, both US citizens who emigrated from the former Soviet Union, were indicted last year on charges of conspiracy, making false statements and falsification of records.

Prosecutors have alleged that they made outsize campaign donations to Republican causes after receiving millions of US dollars originating from Russia. The men have pleaded not guilty.

In several of the documents, Parnas communicated with Giuliani about the removal of Yovanovitch.

The ambassador’s ouster, ordered by Trump, was at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

Yovanovitch testified in the impeachment hearings that she was the victim of a “smear campaign.”

Trump on a July 25 call had promised Zelenskiy that Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things.”

About two months earlier, she was recalled from her diplomatic post.

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