Jan 18, 2020

New Lev Parnas records detail Ukraine surveillance efforts, contact with Devin Nunes aide

Lev Parnas arrives at federal court on Dec. 17 in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee released materials Friday provided by Lev Parnas, who investigators say acted as a "direct channel" between President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani and individuals close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Driving the news: The new materials detail conversations between Parnas and one of House Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes' aides and highlight surveillance efforts against Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Nunes was one of the top investigators in Trump's impeachment probe.

Parnas did the following, according to documents he provided to the House committee:

  • Kept hand-written notes outlining the alleged pre-condition of a now-infamous July 25 phone call between President Trump and Zelensky: that Zelensky publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden, Trump's political rival in the 2020 election.
  • Arranged interviews with Nunes aide Derek Harvey and Ukrainian officials, including Yuri Lutsenko, the country's prosecutor general.
  • Shared pictures and articles of Yovanovitch with GOP congressional candidate and Trump donor Robert Hyde, who texted back: "Can't believe Trum[p] hasn't fired this [b**ch]. I'll get right on that."
  • Received text messages from Hyde suggesting that the congressional candidate had Yovanovitch under physical surveillance in Kyiv. “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price," Hyde texted.
  • Appeared to receive screenshots of Hyde's conversation with a Belgian country-code number. "Nothing has changed she is still not moving they check today again. It's confirmed we have a person inside," the contact texted Hyde in a string, after sharing a picture of Yovanovitch and a tweet referencing her.

What's next: Democrats hope these materials will be submitted for the record during the Senate impeachment trial.

Between the lines, as reported earlier this week: Parnas is not an especially reliable narrator; he's been indicted on federal campaign-finance charges (and maintains his innocence).

  • This is all about credibility. Parnas has now gone public with numerous eye-popping documents. But is that reason enough for Americans to take him at his word? Will Ukrainian officials confirm Parnas claims that aren't supported by documentary evidence? Or will people have to decide for themselves whether or not to take them at face value? 

Go deeper: Lev Parnas: "Trump knew exactly what was going on" in Ukraine

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Facebook removes pro-Trump pages defending GOP candidate Robert Hyde

Facebook logo. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook removed "a network of several dozen Facebook pages" defending GOP congressional candidate and Trump donor Robert Hyde late on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reports — months after Buzzfeed revealed 23 of the pages featuring pro-Trump content.

Why now: Facebook's choice to take down the pages coincides with the House Intelligence committee releasing documents apparently showing that Hyde suggested to Lev Parnas, associate of Rudy Giuliani, that he had former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch under physical surveillance in Kyiv.

Go deeperArrowJan 18, 2020

Sen. Cornyn: There have been a "series of grifters" associated with Trump campaign

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday dismissed new impeachment evidence obtained from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, stating that there is "no question that there have been a series of grifters" who have associated themselves with the Trump campaign.

Go deeperArrowJan 19, 2020

Rudy Giuliani ditches Lev Parnas: "I still feel sorry for him"

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani went on Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle" on Monday and tried to distance himself from close associate Lev Parnas.

Why it matters: Parnas in recent interviews has claimed that he helped carry out a campaign to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens with Trump's consent and awareness.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020