Lev Parnas, an associate of Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, said Saturday that he possesses text messages and other evidence to back his claim that Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, met last December with ousted Ukrainian top prosecutor Viktor Shokin. On Friday, Parnas, through his lawyer, said that Nunes met Shokin in Vienna with the express purpose of gathering “dirt” on Democratic 2020 presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.
Parnas’ claim that he is in possession of texts that support his accusation against Nunes was reported via Twitter by CNN investigative journalist Vicky Ward. Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, said that Parnas “would not be making these claims if he didn’t have text messages and other such evidence to back them up.”
Nunes is now likely to face an ethics investigation in the House over his alleged meeting with Shokin, Rep. Adam Smith, the House Armed Services Committee Chair, said on Saturday, according to The Washington Post.
Nunes called the allegation that he had met with Shokin “demonstrably false and scandalous” and threatened to sue CNN, as well as The Daily Beast, for publishing the Parnas accusation.
Giuliani also said that Nunes had not met with Shokin, but if he had “there would’ve been nothing wrong with it,” as quoted by The Washington Post.
Congressional financial records posted online by the House of Representatives show that Nunes spent $14,201 of public funds on a flight to Europe on December 3, plus another $1,368 on lodging and meals during the trip.
Bondy claims that Shokin himself told Parnas of the meeting with Nunes. Shokin, however, has since denied that the meeting took place. Shokin was fired as Ukraine’s top prosecutor under a cloud of widespread allegations of corruption.
Parnas, along with his business partner, Igor Fruman, was arrested and indicted in October, on charges that they illegally funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from a Russian businessman to a pro-Trump Super PAC. They reportedly acted as “fixers” for Giuliani, acting on his behalf in his attempt to pressure Ukraine to launch an investigation of Biden.
The location of the meeting Parnas alleges took place between Nunes and Shokin is also significant. Vienna, Austria, is the home base of fugitive Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who was installed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a broker in sales of natural gas from Russian to Ukraine. Firtash became a billionaire as a result of the position.
Firtash, who is fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery charges, provided the funding for Parnas and Fruman’s activities on behalf of Giuliani, according to published reports.