Democrats release files on Giuliani's Ukraine efforts

Included is handwritten note that asks Ukraine to probe Biden case

WASHINGTON • House Democrats have released documents they obtained from Lev Parnas, a close associate of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, including a handwritten note that mentioned asking Ukraine's President to investigate "the Biden case".

The documents, obtained as part of the impeachment investigation, showed Parnas communicating with Mr Giuliani before the removal of Ms Marie Yovanovitch, who was the United States ambassador to Ukraine. A man named Mr Robert Hyde disparaged Ms Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas and gave him updates on her location and cellphone use, raising questions about possible surveillance.

Democrats released the files on Tuesday as they prepared to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for Mr Trump's trial. The documents added new context to their charges that Mr Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Democrats as he withheld military aid.

Parnas was in frequent communication with Mr Giuliani and with Ukrainian officials, the messages showed. He appeared to be pushing unsubstantiated allegations that Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter were somehow engaged in corruption in Ukraine.

Among the documents was a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter from Mr Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dated May 10 last year, which was before Mr Zelensky took office.

In the letter, Mr Giuliani requested a meeting with Mr Zelensky "as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent". One of the documents was a note on stationery from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Vienna that said "get Zalensky (sic) to Annonce (sic) that the Biden case will be Investigated".

Mr Trump asked Mr Zelensky in a July call to investigate his political rival, Mr Biden, and Hunter. Mr Hunter Biden served on the board of a gas company based in Ukraine.

Democrats said that Parnas' attorney confirmed that Parnas wrote the notes. The documents - including phone records, texts and flash drives turned over by Parnas - were sent to the House Judiciary Committee by three other House panels "to be included as part of the official record that will be transmitted to the Senate along with the Articles of Impeachment".

Some of the materials were made public while others were marked as sensitive.

Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, both US citizens who emigrated from the former Soviet bloc, were indicted last year on charges of conspiracy, making false statements and falsification of records.

Prosecutors alleged that they made campaign donations to Republican causes after receiving millions originating from Russia. The men have pleaded not guilty.

Senior Democrats who led the House inquiry said the new records underscored the need for senators to demand additional evidence at Mr Trump's impeachment trial.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was due to announce the names of her impeachment managers at 10am yesterday, and a vote to formally name them and send the articles was scheduled for early afternoon.

In the Senate, Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell said senators were ready to receive the charges yesterday and take sworn oaths to render "impartial justice" in the trial shortly thereafter, if not the following day.

But after weeks of demanding the charges be brought forward speedily, he said the Senate would put off considering the terms of the trial or the substance of the case for nearly a week, until next Tuesday.

That would allow lawmakers time to vote late this week to approve Mr Trump's new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico and give senators time to travel home before the trial requires them to remain in the Senate chamber six days a week.

ASSOCIATED PRESS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2020, with the headline 'Democrats release files on Giuliani's Ukraine efforts'. Print Edition | Subscribe