Giuliani has also for the past several years represented President Trump. That representation was “as a private citizen, not as President of the United States” — as Giuliani described the relationship in a letter he sent in May to then-Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky, seeking a meeting. Giuliani took a lead role in an effort to pressure Zelensky to announce new investigations that would benefit Trump politically (and, as he stated, personally).
Parnas assisted in that effort. Documents that Giuliani provided to the State Department last year include interview summaries indicating that Parnas was present when Giuliani spoke with a former Ukrainian prosecutor who is driving unproved allegations against former vice president Joe Biden. Parnas and Giuliani worked together closely — until last fall, when Parnas was arrested in connection with alleged campaign finance allegations. Parnas has since decided to cooperate with authorities.
One facet of his new embrace of cooperation includes turning over material sought by House impeachment investigators. On Tuesday afternoon, the House Intelligence Committee publicly released some of the documents Parnas had provided, including four pages of handwritten notes taken on stationery from the Vienna Ritz-Carlton. Across those four pages are a number of oblique or direct references to issues at the heart of the impeachment inquiry — if you know how to translate them.
The notes appear to be a summary of a call between Parnas and Giuliani in which Parnas is jotting down what Giuliani is telling him. We can’t say that with certainty; no concrete proof has emerged that this was the genesis of what’s written. We can say only that the notes are consistent with that scenario, including top-line goals and a list of action items.
Update: In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday evening, Parnas confirmed that the notes in fact derived from a conversation with Giuliani.
The first includes two apparent desired outcomes.
1. “Get Zalensky to Annonce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” (All transcriptions are uncorrected.) The first note in the Parnas documents is the most direct. One task at hand was the one eventually articulated directly by Trump in his call with Zelensky on July 25, 2019: Get Ukraine to investigate Biden.
2. “Start commun with Zalensky without (Pinchuk or [unclear]).” It’s likely that Parnas is referring to Ukrainian business executives Victor Pinchuk and Igor Kolomoisky. The apparent goal is for Parnas et al. to establish a relationship with Zelensky that doesn’t leverage either Pinchuk or Kolomoisky.
Pinchuk has connections to Trump’s world, having reportedly paid the then-presidential candidate to appear by videoconference at a summit he hosted in 2015. (During the conference, Trump referred to Pinchuk as his “friend.”)
Kolomoisky was a close adviser to Zelensky; associates of his ended up speaking with Giuliani as Trump’s attorney expanded his Ukraine efforts last year. Shortly after Zelensky won the presidency in late April 2019, Parnas and his colleague Igor Fruman met with Kolomoisky. Kolomoisky later told the New York Times that the two had come under the pretext of seeking a gas deal but ultimately made clear that they sought a meeting between Zelensky and Giuliani. He declined to help.
The note indicates that perhaps Parnas and his team had moved on, seeking a direct line of communication with the Ukrainian president without the filters or input of Ukrainian oligarchs. This also suggests that the notes were taken before Giuliani’s outreach to Zelensky in early May of last year.
3. “1) Put together Package” This is probably a reference to a packet of material provided to the State Department in May that the State Department inspector general made public as questions about Ukraine emerged. That packet included the aforementioned notes of Giuliani’s interviews with two Ukrainian prosecutors (including the then-current prosecutor general), news articles from writer John Solomon and a long and questionable timeline of purported events in Ukraine.
4. “2) go to D.C. with Package.” The package was delivered to the State Department in May, with individual documents stashed in Trump hotel-branded folders and the entire thing encased in a manila envelope with a return address of “The White House.”
5. “2) do my ‘magic’ and cut deal.” This is one of the more cryptic notes. It’s not clear whose “magic” is being referred to here, Parnas’s or Giuliani’s (or, perhaps, someone else on the call). It’s similarly not clear what “deal” is at stake, although the next note offers some hint.
6. “3) Victoria/Joe retained ... begin media campaign.” It’s likely that this is a reference to a legal relationship between two lawyers associated with Giuliani — Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova — and Yuri Lutsenko, then the prosecutor general of Ukraine. Lutsenko was looking (and still is looking) to engage the U.S. government in an investigation of what he claims was a broad misappropriation of money by an American company. (The company denies the allegations.)
Giuliani’s proposed meeting with Zelensky in May would have included Toensing. The trip was canceled after the Times reported on Giuliani’s intent to push Zelensky for new investigations.
“No money was ever received, and no legal work was ever performed because the trip was canceled,” a spokesman for Toensing said last year about the relationship with Lutsenko.
The “begin media campaign” is significant, though. Toensing and diGenova also represented Solomon, who, from his perch at The Hill, had been writing about Lutsenko’s various allegations for some time — including allegations targeting Biden and then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. In the context of this note, the suggestion is that Toensing, diGenova and Parnas — who also provided translation services to the two lawyers — were looking to being a new media push on behalf of their client.
7. “He’ll confirm / AL [?] can call.” It’s not clear what this note means or the order in which it was added.
The document is now organized into two columns.
8. The “Joe/Victoria” column: This column includes several bullet points that seem to deal with Dmitry Firtash, another Russian oligarch. Firtash is in Europe, fighting extradition to the United States on bribery charges. Bloomberg News reported in October that he had retained Toensing and diGenova in July, reportedly at Parnas’s urging.
- “Firtash / Toxic.” A mention of Firtash. It’s not clear what “toxic” refers to.
- “get deal done / 1-3 months.” Another unclear note, although it may suggest a timeline on which Parnas was to secure Toensing and diGenova’s representation for Firtash.
- “cut deal or get dismissed.” A possible reference to Firtash’s desired outcomes: make a deal with the federal government or get his charges dismissed.
9. The “Lenny/Davis" column This column refers to Lanny Davis, who, until early last year, was Firtash’s attorney in the United States. (In March, Giuliani publicly bashed Firtash and Davis.)
Again, the column includes several bullet points.
- “get rid of Lenny davis (nicely).” Self-explanatory, although it’s unclear whether Parnas was being told that this was a desired outcome or being tasked with the job.
- “get all info from case.” For Toensing and diGenova to take over representation of Firtash, presumably Davis would be asked to provide the information he had on the case.
10. “Zlochefks / Ukrain Ledger.” Why go through all of this? Why transition from Davis to Toensing and diGenova? The last two items in the Davis column offer a hint.
“Zlochefks” appears to be a jumbled spelling of Zlochevsky — a likely reference to Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder and head of Burisma Holdings. Burisma, as you may be aware, hired Hunter Biden to serve on its board in 2014, a relationship that prompted Trump’s and Giuliani’s attention to the company and spurred their desire for a broad investigation of what it was doing.
“Ukrain ledger” is a reference to documents uncovered after the 2014 revolution in Ukraine that documented off-the-books payments by the political party of the ousted president. Among the alleged payments were ones to Paul Manafort, who served as Trump’s campaign chairman for several months in 2016. It was the publication of the ledger that led to Manafort’s ouster from the campaign.
In other words, these two bullet points each refer to components of the investigations that Giuliani sought: an inquiry of Burisma centered on the Bidens; and a probe of the release of the ledger, which Trump allies including Manafort have argued was an effort by Ukraine to influence the 2016 election.
That these issues are mentioned in the context of Firtash is important. Bloomberg News reported that Firtash aided the effort to dig up politically useful dirt once he retained diGenova and Toensing.
11. “4) Congrass/Senate support / Hire Robert Stryk / Lobbiest / or / Brian Ballard." Parnas here notes the intent to hire lobbyists to aid the team’s work — although it’s not clear the context in which the assistance was sought.
The identified lobbyists, though, are big players. Robert Stryk has leveraged his relationships in Trumpworld to become a prominent lobbyist. Brian Ballard was described by Politico as “the most powerful lobbyist in Trump’s Washington.”
12. “5) P.R. group / $$ ??” This, coupled with the note above, suggests combining behind-the-scenes political activity with a public-facing effort. It’s possible that this is a continuation of the Firtash outcomes, but it’s not clear.
13. “Rudy.” The most likely reason Giuliani’s name is included at the bottom of these notes? Parnas was finishing his notes with a reminder of what they relate to: a conversation with his lawyer/employer about next steps in the effort to deliver a political win for the president.