Rudy Giuliani and one of his indicted Ukrainian associates exchanged a flurry of phone calls with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the top Republican on Congress’ impeachment investigation panel, amid a Giuliani-led effort to dig up dirt on President Donald Trump’s political opponents in Ukraine.
The House Intelligence Committee obtained phone records from AT&T showing extensive communications in early April involving Nunes, Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and The Hill columnist John Solomon, according to records released in the committee’s formal report on its investigation underlying impeachment charges against President Donald Trump.
The records shed new light on the relationship between Nunes, one of the impeachment inquiries most vehement critics, and the individuals at the center of what committee Democrats describe as an illicit campaign to weaponize U.S. foreign policy to Trump’s political advantage.
The records in the committee’s 300-page report show three phone calls between Nunes and Giuliani on April 10 of this year, and at least two with Parnas two days later. Derek Harvey, a member of Nunes’ staff, also had a phone call with Giuliani the following month.
The Nunes calls came on the tail end of a long series of communications between Parnas and Solomon, who on April 1 had published a column relaying the same conspiracy theories at the center of Giuliani’s Trump-endorsed inquisition in Ukraine: that high-ranking officials in Kyiv had sought to scuttle Trump's 2016 presidential candidacy, and that former Vice President Joe Biden had corruptly attempted to insulate a company that employed his son from prosecution. Parnas and Solomon exchanged more than a dozen phone calls in the subsequent two weeks, during which Solomon reiterated the allegations about Biden and Ukraine in another column that Giuliani relayed in an interview on Fox News.
Giuliani, meanwhile, was in frequent communication with the White House. Throughout April, he placed numerous calls to unidentified individuals in the Office of Management and Budget, the office led by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The report also notes a number of Giuliani calls later in the year with an individual at an unidentified number—appearing only as “-1” in phone records—amid a series of phone calls and text messages with numbers associated with the White House.
The committee’s report describes those individuals as part of a “smear campaign” coordinated with “one or more individuals at the White House.”
Giuliani did not respond to a text message for comment.
Much of the report is based on interviews with key witnesses whose testimonies have been largely dissected. But the committee’s possession of phone records from Parnas and Giuliani adds compelling physical evidence to an investigation that Republican critics have derided as reliant on “hearsay.”
Nunes in particular has sought to undermine the investigation by alleging that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Intelligence Committee chairman, had coordinated or otherwise communicated with an intelligence community whistleblower who initially raised concerns about Trump’s apparent efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political foes. But the phone records contained in the committee’s report show that Nunes himself had engaged in his own behind-the-scenes communications with the very people at issue in the whistleblower complaint. Nunes never revealed those communications during the weeks of committee testimony. The congressman has discussed the possibility of suing news outlets, including The Daily Beast, for reporting on his private handling of matters related to Trump’s actions in Ukraine.
“It is deeply concerning that at a time when the president of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity,” Schiff said on Tuesday of Nunes’ communications with Parnas and Giuliani.
Phone records released on Tuesday also show contacts in early April between Giuliani, Parnas, and Victoria Toensing, a lawyer who briefly served as Trump’s personal attorney in 2018. Days after her contacts with Giuliani and Parnas, Toensing signed a retainer agreement to represent two former Ukrainian prosecutors who had briefed Giuliani on allegations against the Bidens.
One of those prosecutors, Yuriy Lutsenko, had also told Solomon that Marie Yovanovitch—then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine—had actively undermined Trump in her post in the country and sought to insulate politically favored groups and companies from prosecution. Lutsenko has since retracted that claim.
Nonetheless, just weeks after the series of phone calls identified in the Intelligence Committee’s report, Yovanovitch was recalled from her post. In testimony last month, she attributed her removal to a malicious smear campaign orchestrated by Giuliani, his associates, and vindictive Ukrainian officials.