House Democrats release new documents from indicted Giuliani associate

By Stefan Becket and Olivia Gazis

/ CBS News

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Washington — House Democrats released a trove of documents from an indicted businessman who helped Rudy Giuliani in his campaign to pressure Ukraine, including previously undisclosed handwritten notes and a letter Giuliani addressed to the Ukrainian president-elect requesting a meeting shortly before his inauguration.

Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, was indicted on campaign finance charges along with another associate in October at the height of the House impeachment inquiry. 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.

Chairman Adam Schiff sent the material to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler on two flash drives, writing in a letter that the Intelligence Committee "continues to receive and review potentially relevant evidence" in its investigation into President Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

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The new documents come to light as the Senate prepares to open Mr. Trump's impeachment trial, and could bolster Democrats' arguments for admit new evidence and hearing from additional witnesses.

The three committees that led the initial phases of the probe released select material from what they called a "voluminous record of data" gleaned primarily from Parnas' cell phones.

The excerpts show Parnas acting as a conduit between Giuliani and current and former Ukrainian officials, including several close aides of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. One handwritten note reads: "get Zalensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated" — a reference to the ongoing efforts to get Ukraine to announce probes to benefit Mr. Trump politically.

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A handwritten note by Lev Parnas included in material provided to congressional investigators. House Intelligence Committee

Giuliani's letter to Zelensky

Committee investigators found an image of a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky dated May 10, 2019, after Zelensky won election but before he was inaugurated. On the day before, The New York Times reported Giuliani planned to travel to Ukraine to try to dig up dirt against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

In the letter, Giuliani introduced himself as Mr. Trump's personal attorney.

"I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump. Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States," Giuliani wrote. "This is quite common under American law because the duties and privileges of a President and a private citizen are not the same. Separate representation is usual process."

Giuliani requested a meeting with Zelensky on May 13 or 14 and said he had Mr. Trump's "knowledge and consent" to meet. He said he "would be accompanied by my colleague Victoria Toensing, a distinguished American attorney who is very familiar with this matter."

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A letter from Rudy Giuliani to then-President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky dated May 10, 2019. House Intelligence Committee

Toensing and her husband, attorney Joseph diGenova, are staunch Trump allies whose clients have included Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian energy magnate who is fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery charges. Federal prosecutors told a federal judge Parnas tried to hide $1 million he received from Firtash.

In their summary of the documents, the committees said Parnas "texted a copy of the letter to a close aide to then-President-elect Zelensky shortly after it was drafted."

Giuliani ended up canceling his trip to Ukraine after significant public blowback, and he harshly criticized Zelensky's team in the aftermath.

Parnas, however, continued to push to set up a meeting between Zelensky and Giuliani. On July 7, he texted Giuliani to say he was traveling to Vienna and "trying to get us mr Z."

The undated handwritten notes bear the letterhead of the Ritz-Carlton in Vienna. In what appears to be the reverse side of the note about the "Biden case," Parnas wrote a reminder to "do my 'magic' and cut deal," underlining the last word twice for emphasis.

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Another handwritten note by Lev Parnas included in a release of documents by House Democrats on Tuesday, January 14, 2020. House Intelligence Committee

First published on January 14, 2020 / 5:38 PM

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