Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Rep. Devin Nunes in 2018, Parnas’ lawyer Ed MacMahon told The Daily Beast.
Nunes aide Derek Harvey participated in the meetings, the lawyer said, which were arranged to help Nunes’ investigative work. MacMahon didn’t specify what those investigations entailed.
Nunes is the top Republican on the House committee handling the impeachment hearings—hearings where Parnas’ name has repeatedly come up.
Congressional records show Nunes traveled to Europe from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018. Three of his aides—Harvey, Scott Glabe, and George Pappas—traveled with him, per the records. U.S. government funds paid for the group’s four-day trip, which cost just over $63,000.
The travel came as Nunes, in his role on the House Intelligence Committee, was working to investigate the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election-meddling.
Parnas’ assistance to Nunes’ team has not been previously reported. A spokesperson for Nunes did not respond to requests for comment.
Nunes has been helming the GOP’s involvement in the impeachment inquiry. He has spent much of his time criticizing the probe and the media’s coverage of it. “In their mania to attack the President, no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the Democrats,” he said on Wednesday morning before Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony. Later in the day, Nunes accused Democrats of harboring “Watergate fantasies.”
“I guess they fantasize about this at night,” he said.
Giuliani has been a subject of much discussion at the impeachment hearings. To a lesser extent, so have Parnas and his associate, Igor Fruman, who worked with Giuliani as he attempted to find damaging information on Joe and Hunter Biden from Ukrainian sources.
Nunes has been at the center of the broader story about foreign influence in President Donald Trump’s Washington. When congressional investigators began probing Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, Nunes made a late-night visit to the White House and announced the next day he’d found evidence of egregious wrongdoing by Intelligence Community officials. The move appeared to be an effort to corroborate a presidential tweet claiming that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Nunes then stepped back from the committee’s work scrutinizing Russian efforts. Instead, he ran a parallel probe looking at the origins of Mueller’s Russia probe. The undertaking made him a hero to the president and Sean Hannity, and a bête noire of Democrats and Intelligence Community officials. That work was still underway when he traveled to Europe in 2018.
Last month, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York charged Parnas and Fruman with illegally moving money from foreign donors to American political campaigns. Both men maintain their innocence.
“Contrary to many aspersions in the press to date, Lev Parnas is a proud United States citizen, who has lived here since he was four years old,” said Joseph Bondy, an attorney on his legal team.
“Raised in Brooklyn, and now living in Florida, Mr. Parnas is happily married with six children—five living at home—and a zeal for America and its democratic values. At all times throughout, he has believed that what he was doing was furtherance of the President’s and thus our national interests. President Trump’s recent and regrettable disavowal of Mr. Parnas has caused him to rethink his involvement and the true reasons for his having been recruited to participate in the President’s activities. Mr. Parnas is prepared to testify completely and accurately about his involvement in the President and Rudy Giuliani’s quid pro quo demands of Ukraine.”
When Nunes traveled to Europe in 2018, Giuliani—who is Trump’s personal attorney—was working to oust Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Kyiv. The Justice Department indictment of Parnas and Fruman alleges they illegally moved money into American elections to “advance the political interests of... a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine.”
Allegations against Yovanovitch blew up in American conservative media, including at The Hill and on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. Donald Trump Jr. even joined the chorus of voices calling for Yovanovitch to be recalled. And on May 20, she was.
Numerous U.S. officials, however, have testified to the impeachment inquiry that the claims against her were baseless. Yovanovitch herself testified to investigators last week. As with all the other impeachment hearings, Nunes led Republicans’ questioning of her.
—with additional reporting by Anna Nemtsova and Jackie Kucinich