https://usa-breakingnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/191206103741-01-rudy-giuliani-file-2018-large-169-2-1-1.jpg 259 460 USA Breaking News https://usa-breakingnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/usa-breaking-news-300x94.png USA Breaking News2020-01-14 22:38:562020-01-14 23:39:59House Democrats provide new evidence of Giuliani's push to meet with Zelensky
The documents show how the associate, Lev Parnas, sought to set up a meeting between Giuliani and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and connect with members of his government. The records also add more details about the push by Giuliani to seek the ouster of the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
The House Intelligence Committee pored through the reams of material provided by Parnas as they prepared for Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, and the transition of the material to the Senate suggests House Democrats may cite the documents while presenting their case. Joseph Bondy, Parnas’ attorney, hand-delivered the contents of an iPhone to the Intelligence panel’s staff over the weekend.
The House panel made some of the documents that Parnas provided public on Tuesday, including a letter from Giuliani to then-President-elect Zelensky requesting a meeting as the President’s personal attorney, as well as text messages that show Parnas’ communications with members of Zelesnky’s aides where he pursued a meeting between Zelensky and Giuliani and provided negative information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
The documents also include a hand-written note on stationary from the Ritz-Carlton in Vienna, Austria, that Bondy said was written by his client, which says: “get Zalensky (sic) to Annonce (sic) that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” There are also cryptic text messages suggesting that Yovanovitch’s movements were being tracked.
The Senate trial is expected to begin next week, and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, is expected to lead the House’s presentation of the case against the President. The House is expected to have to present exhibits and trial records ahead of time, according to sources, which means Democrats expected to need to provide materials on the front end — although the House has yet to see the formal resolution laying out the trial rules from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“I think it’s something we can’t ignore,” said Rep. Val Demings, a Florida Democrat on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, told CNN when asked about Parnas’ documents. “To what extent we can get through it before the Senate trial remains to be seen.”
The tranche of documents released Tuesday included the previously undisclosed letter from Giuliani to Zelensky asking for a meeting in mid-May of last year. Parnas included a screenshot of the letter in a text to Serhiy Shefir, an aide to Zelensky.
“Along with many others, I am very hopeful that your election is a real turning point and allows the Ukraine to prosper and overcome some of the long-standing problems of the past,” Giuliani wrote.
He then made his ask: “In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you on this upcoming Monday, May 13th or Tuesday, May 14th. I will need no more than a half-hour of your time and I will be accompanied by my colleague Victoria Toensing, a distinguished American attorney who is very familiar with this matter.”
Subsequent texts between Parnas and Shefir indicate the two met in Kyiv at Restaurant Prague after Giuliani canceled his trip.
The new documents also provide additional details on Giuliani’s efforts to obtain a visa for former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, which had been denied by the State Department. Giuliani repeatedly told Parnas in text messages that he would help him obtain a visa after it was denied, and provided Parnas with the contact info of the President’s attorney Jay Sekulow. The visa was ultimately not issued.
On Tuesday, Schiff said he didn’t know if the House impeachment managers would be able to present in the Senate any new evidence that has emerged since the chamber impeached Trump in late December because they don’t know what the trial procedures will look like under the resolution being drafted by McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.
“This is going to be a partisan resolution by Mitch McConnell, and I’m sure it will be drafted with the White House lawyers to give the President every advantage,” Schiff said on MSNBC. “I will say this, though. It’s going to be hard for the Senate to ignore information that comes into the public record and say we’re not going to consider that, even though it’s directly relevant, even though it’s directly incriminating.”
Parnas and Igor Fruman worked with Giuliani in Ukraine as part of the President’s lawyer’s efforts to oust the US ambassador to Ukraine and then push the country to investigate Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company which made up the core of the House’s impeachment case. Parnas and Fruman were indicted by federal prosecutors late last year.
Parnas’ document dump is one of several developments that have occurred since the House passed two impeachment articles against the President — and additional information could be released during the trial. The watchdog group American Oversight has already received documents from the State Department, thanks to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, and is slated to receive Ukraine records from the Energy Department on January 28 — which is likely to be in the middle of the Senate trial.
If new documents come up in the trial, Chief Justice John Roberts could have to rule on whether they are admissible. Fifty-one senators could vote to overturn a chief justice’s decision, senators said.
“We could” overturn Roberts’ rulings, said Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of Senate GOP leadership. “Or if he doesn’t admit (records), we could overturn the chief justice.”
It’s not yet clear how Schiff and other potential House impeachment managers would use any new information during the trial that wasn’t available when the House voted to impeach the President, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has touted the new development as part of her argument that the strategy of withholding the impeachment articles for nearly a month was effective.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.