- Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California was on multiple phone calls with several key figures implicated in the impeachment inquiry not long before Marie Yovanovitch was recalled as the US’s ambassador to Ukraine.
- On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee released its report on its central findings in the impeachment inquiry.
- The report said that “phone records show contacts” in April between Nunes, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the businessman Lev Parnas, and the investigative reporter John Solomon.
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The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released its report on its central findings in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, and buried within it were details on phone calls between Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California and several key figures implicated in the inquiry.
The report said that “phone records show contacts” in April between Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress; Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who’s now Trump’s personal lawyer; the Ukrainian-born businessman Lev Parnas; and the investigative reporter John Solomon, who has written several articles for The Hill peddling conspiracy theories about Ukrainian election interference.
“Phone records also show contacts on April 10 between Mr. Giuliani and Rep. Nunes, consisting of three short calls in rapid succession, followed by a text message, and ending with a nearly three minute call,” the report said. “Later that same day, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Solomon had a four minute, 39 second call.”
Giuliani has largely emerged as Trump’s point man in the Ukrainian pressure campaign, heavily implicated in a broad, shadowy effort to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that would be advantageous to Trump’s reelection campaign. Giuliani and Parnas were also instrumental in engineering the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the US’s ambassador to Ukraine.
Yovanovitch was recalled in May, several weeks after Nunes’ conversations with Giuliani and Parnas. The career diplomat told House impeachment investigators that she was warned by a Ukrainian official to watch her back because Parnas and Igor Fruman, another of Giuliani’s associates, were working to get her removed from her post.
Parnas and Fruman were indicted earlier this year, accused of campaign-finance violations. Both men helped Giuliani in his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could be politically beneficial for Trump before the 2020 election.
The two men have been charged with conspiracy, making false statements, and falsifying records in connection with schemes to violate US election laws. Prosecutors indicated earlier this week that Parnas and Fruman could still face more charges.
Here’s a timeline of relevant dates and events
- On April 1, Solomon published a piece in The Hill titled “Joe Biden’s 2020 Ukrainian nightmare.”
- From April 1 to 7, the report said, Parnas spoke with Giuliani about 16 times and Solomon about 10 times.
- On April 7, Solomon published an op-ed article attacking Yovanovitch.
- On April 10, Giuliani and Nunes had several phone calls, and later Parnas and Solomon had a nearly five-minute call, the report said.
- On April 12, Nunes and Parnas had a phone call that lasted 8 1/2 minutes, the report said.
The report’s references to the phone calls are likely to increase scrutiny of the California Republican on top of other recent reports detailing his interactions with Parnas.
A November report from The Daily Beast, for example, said Parnas helped arrange meetings and calls for Nunes in Europe.
CNN in late November reported that a lawyer for Parnas said he was willing to testify about meetings Nunes had with an ousted Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in Vienna in December 2018 about digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
Nunes, who like Trump has described the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax,” has filed a $US435 million defamation suit against CNN over the report, the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday.
The House’s report said Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine and obstructed Congress’ impeachment inquiry
The primary conclusion of the report was that Trump “conditioned a White House meeting and military aid to Ukraine on a public announcement of investigations beneficial to his reelection campaign.”
The report also concluded that Trump “obstructed the impeachment inquiry by instructing witnesses and agencies to ignore subpoenas for documents and testimony.”
The impeachment inquiry began in late September and was catalyzed by a whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official that zeroed in on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
During the call, Trump urged Zelensky to launch investigations into Biden and his son Hunter related to the latter’s work for a Ukrainian natural-gas company, Burisma Holdings. Trump also pressured Zelensky to launch an inquiry into a debunked conspiracy theory linked to the 2016 election.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and said his call was Zelensky was “perfect.” At the time of the call, Trump had placed roughly $US400 million in military aid to Ukraine on hold. The freeze on the aid is at the heart of allegations that Trump essentially sought to extort Ukraine into launching the investigations.
The aid was released on September 11, less than a week after three House committees launched investigations into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
The House Judiciary Committee is set to hold its first public hearing on the matter, with a panel of four experts in constitutional law, on Wednesday. Trump, who’s in London for a NATO summit, declined to send a lawyer to the hearing despite being invited to participate.
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