House Democrats on Tuesday released new documentation in connection with the probe into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, aiming to incorporate it into the House record in time for the start of the Senate’s impeachment trial.
The documentation, some of which was kept confidential to protect personally sensitive information, includes text messages from Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Among the material that Mr. Parnas provided to the House Intelligence Committee was a screenshot of a previously undisclosed May 10 letter from Mr. Giuliani to Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky. In the letter, Mr. Giuliani said he was asking for a meeting with Mr. Zelensky with Mr. Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
Mr. Giuliani didn’t say in the letter why he sought the meeting with Ukraine’s president, but he had already said on Fox News that he wanted information about Joe Biden, his client’s potential 2020 election rival, part of the effort that later in the year sparked the impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Zelensky didn’t end up taking the meeting, fearful of getting sucked into a U.S. political drama.
Mr. Parnas was arrested in October on campaign-finance charges along with his associate, Igor Fruman, both of whom have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The two men for months assisted Mr. Giuliani in his push for investigations in Ukraine. In recent days, a lawyer for Mr. Parnas said he turned over to the Intelligence Committee a trove of messages from Mr. Parnas’s cellphones. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The Democratic-led House last month voted to impeach Mr. Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The articles of impeachment accuse him of pressuring Ukraine to open investigations that would benefit him politically. Mr. Trump has said he did nothing wrong.
“These documents—and those recently released pursuant to Freedom of Information Act—demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the President’s scheme, but they have been concealed by the President himself,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) and other Democratic chairmen of the committees that ran the impeachment probe wrote in a letter. “All of this new evidence confirms what we already know: the President and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit the President politically. There cannot be a full and fair trial in the Senate without the documents that President Trump is refusing to provide to Congress.”
The House is expected to vote Wednesday to transmit the obstruction-of-Congress and abuse-of-power impeachment articles to the Senate, which is expected to begin a trial next week after taking ceremonial steps such as swearing in senators as jurors.
Mr. Parnas also turned over notes that were handwritten on stationery from a Vienna hotel in which he wrote, “get Zalensky to Annonce that the Biden case will Be Investigated,” incorporating misspellings into his notes, the committees said. That refers to the probe Mr. Trump had asked Ukraine’s leader to announce into an energy company that Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden had been associated with. Both Bidens deny any wrongdoing.
The communications were made via encrypted messaging applications, particularly WhatsApp, the committees said, and included conversations that often took place in Russian with senior Ukrainian officials in 2019. The communications “demonstrate that Mr. Parnas served as a direct channel between President Trump’s agent, Mr. Giuliani, and individuals close to President Volodymyr Zelensky,” the committees said.
—Michael C. Bender contributed to this article.
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