House Democrats have released a trove of documents they obtained from Lev Parnas, a close associate of President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, including a handwritten note that mentions asking Ukraine's president to investigate "the Biden case." The documents, obtained as part of the impeachment investigation, show Parnas communicating with Giuliani and another attorney before the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, who was the US ambassador to Ukraine. A man named Robert F. Hyde disparaged Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and gave him updates on her location and cell phone use, raising questions about possible surveillance, the AP reports.
Democrats released the files Tuesday as they prepared to send articles of impeachment to the 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. More:
- Among the documents is a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dated May 10, 2019, which was before Zelensky took office. In the letter, Giuliani requests a meeting with Zelensky "as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent.”
- Another document is a handwritten note on stationery from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that says "get Zalensky to Annonce that the Biden case will be Investigated." Trump asked Zelensky in a July call to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter. Democrats said that Parnas' attorney confirmed that Parnas wrote the notes.
- In several of the documents, Parnas communicated with Giuliani and another attorney, Victoria Toensing, 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 House impeachment hearings that she was the victim of a “smear campaign.”
- Parnas also received messages from Hyde, who referred to Yovanovitch as a "bitch.” Hyde is now running for a US House seat in Connecticut. After texting about the ambassador, Hyde gave Parnas detailed updates that suggested he was watching her. In one text, Hyde wrote: "She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Her computer is off." He said she was under heavy security and "we have a person inside."
- Hyde at one point texted Parnas that ''they are willing to help if we/you would like a price," and “guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money ... is what I was told.” Parnas texted back: "lol."
- Lawrence Robbins, an attorney for Yovanovitch, called for an investigation in to the messages. "Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing," he said.
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