WASHINGTON — As the Senate prepares to try President Donald Trump in an impeachment trial over his attempts to pressure Ukraine into helping his reelection campaign, Ukrainian American businessman Lev Parnas, a key player in that effort, is sharing new documents with the House Intelligence Committee.
The trove of new records includes the contents of several devices that were seized by authorities in October, when Parnas was arrested on campaign finance charges. More than 700 pages of documents authorities removed from Parnas’ home have also been turned over.
On Sunday, Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph Bondy, tweeted that he had traveled to Washington over the weekend to deliver the contents of a cell phone directly to the Intelligence Committee, which oversaw the impeachment investigation into Trump.
On Monday, the federal judge presiding over Parnas’ trial on campaign finance charges in New York agreed to a request from Bondy that Parnas be permitted to share the contents of additional devices with the House committee: an Apple iPhone, a Samsung phone and an Apple iPad. It was the second such request in recent weeks — the first was approved by the judge on Jan. 3.
The documents pertain to Parnas’ role in a multiyear effort led by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Trump’s political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden. Parnas and Giuliani were business associates, and Parnas served as Giuliani’s translator, advisor and fixer in Ukraine.
As the Senate prepares to conduct a trial of the president later this month, Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has vowed to continue investigating new leads, with an eye toward strengthening the case House Democrats plan to mount against Trump in the Senate.
Bondy declined to reveal to CNBC what was in the new Parnas documents, but if it is compelling enough, then it could potentially be incorporated into evidence presented at Trump’s Senate trial.
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also left the door open to potential additional articles of impeachment against the president.
“Well, let’s just see what the Senate does,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in response to a question from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about whether the House might file additional charges against Trump.
Pelosi added, “The ball will be in their court soon.”
Pelosi has so far held off on transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but told her colleagues Friday that she had instructed the House to move forward with the delivery of articles this week.
The Parnas documents are the latest in a series of new materials about the Trump administration’s policy towards Ukraine that have come to light since mid-December, when the House voted to approve two articles of impeachment against Trump.
These include emails that show that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was halted on July 25, the same day Trump spoke to Ukraine’s president and asked for help investigating Trump’s political rivals.
The records are also part of an ongoing effort by Parnas, who has pleaded not guilty in the campaign finance case, to respond to a subpoena he received from the Intelligence Committee last fall. Parnas initially refused to comply with the subpoena on the advice of his then-lawyer, John Dowd, whom he later dismissed. Dowd, a former attorney for the president, still represents Parnas’ business partner, Igor Fruman.
Current and former national security officials who testified last year described Parnas as a ubiquitous figure in the shadow foreign policy that Trump allegedly instructed Giuliani to carry out in Ukraine on his behalf. In the Intelligence Committee’s final report of its findings, released in December, Parnas’ name appeared more than 80 times.
Trump was impeached on two articles stemming from his monthslong campaign to pressure Ukraine into launching investigations into Biden, the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and other domestic political opponents. The pressure tactics allegedly included withholding congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia-backed separatists.
The first article of impeachment charges that Trump abused the power of the presidency, and the second alleges that he obstructed Congress by prohibiting top administration officials from testifying about the Ukraine scheme.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.