A trove of documents handed over by indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and released on Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee contains a letter from Giuliani that appears to place Donald Trump at the heart of the pressure campaign against Ukraine that has led to his impeachment. In the letter to Ukraine’s newly-elected President Volodymyr Zelensky, Giuliani requests an in-person meeting and says that he is acting with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
In the letter dated May 10, 2019, Giuliani does not specify why he desires the face-to-face meeting with Zelensky. But on May 9, Giuliani told The New York Times that he planned a trip to Ukraine to meet with top officials and “press ahead with investigations that he hopes will benefit Mr. Trump.”
Those investigations, according to the Times report, would “help [Trump] in his re-election campaign.”
At the heart of the impeachment articles against Trump are the findings of a House inquiry showing that Trump sought to leverage military aid to Ukraine in order to force that country to investigate Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden for alleged “corruption.”
While Trump has claimed that his “not interested in Biden’s politics” but instead “I do care about corruption,” as quoted by CNN, the Giuliani letter to Zelensky now appears to show that Trump was fully aware of, and approved, Giuliani’s efforts to force the investigation of Biden for political reasons.
The trove of documents also included a note written by Parnas in which he also says that the purpose of the Ukraine efforts was to force the investigation of Biden.
House Intel is releasing some of the documents from Lev Parnas – including this scrawled note: "get Zalensky to Annonce that the Biden case will Be Investigated" pic.twitter.com/m3slygGDOj
— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) January 14, 2020
In a comment to The Daily Beast, Giuliani denied that the letter would incriminate Trump — in fact calling it “very helpful.”
The letter “confirms that my role throughout was as a defense lawyer for the President seeking exculpatory evidence,” Giuliani told The Daily Beast.
According to the Daily Beast report, whether Zelensky himself ever saw Giuliani’s letter remains unclear. A text from Parnas included in the trove of evidence released on Tuesday says that the letter went to Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s Interior Minister.
In the letter, Giuliani also says that he would be accompanied at the Zelensky meeting by conservative lawyer Victoria Toensing, who has been an outspoken defender of Trump throughout the Ukraine scandal. But a spokesperson for Toensing’s law firm told The Daily Beast that no one at the firm had been aware of the Giuliani letter.
The collection of documents handed over by Parnas contained other explosive evidence. In one series of text messages, Parnas corresponds with Trump donor Robert F. Hyde, who appears to say that he has placed then-United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, under surveillance — and says that he knew people who could “help” with Yovanovitch, for “a price.”