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 multiple phone calls between Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California and several key figures implicated in the inquiry.
Nunes is the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and one of Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress.
The report said that in April “phone records show contacts” between Nunes, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the businessman Lev Parnas, and the investigative reporter John Solomon.
“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. It continued, “Later that same day, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Solomon had a four minute, 29 second call.”
Solomon has written several articles for The Hill peddling conspiracy theories about Ukrainian election interference, and Giuliani is Trump’s personal lawyer.
Giuliani has largely emerged as Trump’s point-man in the Ukrainian pressure campaign, and has been heavily implicated in a broad, shadowy effort to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that would be advantageous to Trump’s reelection campaign. The former New York City mayor and Parnas were also instrumental in engineering the removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the US’s ambassador in Ukraine.
Yovanovitch was recalled from her position in May, several weeks after Nunes’ conversations with Giuliani and Parnas. The career diplomat testified to House impeachment investigators that she was warned by a Ukrainian official to watch her back because Parnas and other Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were working to get her removed from her post.
Parnas and his associate, Fruman, were indicted earlier this year for campaign finance violations. Both men helped Giuliani in his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that would be politically beneficial for Trump in the run-up to the 2020 election.
The two men have been charged with conspiracy, false statements, and falsification of records in connection with their alleged schemes to violate US election laws. Prosecutors indicated earlier this week that Parnas and Fruman could still face more charges.
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 April 7, the report said, Parnas spoke with Giuliani about 16 times and Solomon about 10 times.
- On April 7, Solomon published an op-ed attacking Yovanovitch.
- On April 10, Giuliani and Nunes had three phone calls “in rapid succession, followed by a text message, and ending with a nearly three minute call,” the report said. It continued, “Later that same day, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Solomon had a four minute, 29 second call.”
- On April 12, Nunes and Parnas had a phone call that lasted 12 minutes, according to the report.
The references to phone calls between Nunes, Giuliani, and Parnas in the House report are likely to increase scrutiny on the California Republican on top of other recent reports in the media on his alleged interactions with the indicted associate of the president’s personal lawyer.
A November report from The Daily Beast, for example, said Parnas helped arrange meetings and calls for Nunes in Europe.
Separately, CNN in late November reported that a lawyer for Parnas said he’s willing to testify on meetings Nunes had with an ousted Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in Vienna in December 2018 with the purpose of digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
Nunes, who like Trump refers to the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax,” has filed a $435 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 Biden, in relation 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 maintains that his call was Zelensky was “perfect.” At the time of the call, Trump had placed roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine on hold. The freeze on the aid is at the heart of allegations Trump essentially sought to extort Ukraine into launching the investigations.
The aid was eventually released, on September 11, less than a week after three House committees launched investigations into Trump on his dealings with Ukraine.
The House Intelligence Committee’s report on its findings in the impeachment inquiry was released one day before the House Judiciary Committee is set to hold its first public hearing on the matter that will feature a panel of four consitutional law experts. Trump, who’s in London for a NATO summit, has declined to send a lawyer to the hearing despite being invited to participate.