An indicted associate of President Trump and his personal lawyer just revealed that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is so deeply involved in the Ukraine bribery and extortion plot, that he planned to travel there in the spring, but canceled at the last minute.
It’s the culmination of a series of rapid-fire disclosures by the lawyer for Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani charged with conspiring to violate straw and foreign donor bans, and a preview of his hoped-for Congressional testimony about Trump toady and House Oversight Committee member Nunes.
Turning on Trump, Parnas’ new lawyer, Joseph A. Brody, has already delivered a treasure trove of documentary evidence to Congress, which the House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) says the committee is evaluating.
Now, Brody is saying that his client Lev Parnas is planning to tell the impeachment inquiry that he helped Nunes’ staffers arrange for teleconferences with Ukrainian prosecutors as recently as this April. They are some of the same aides who the Giuliani associate says traveled to Europe hunting for dirt on Joe Biden last year. CNBC reports:
Lev Parnas would tell Congress that the purpose of the planned trip was to interview two Ukrainian prosecutors who claimed to have evidence that could help President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, Parnas’ attorney, Joseph Bondy, told CNBC.
But when Nunes’ staff realized that going to Ukraine themselves would mean alerting Schiff to their plans, they instead asked Parnas to set up the meetings for them over phone and Skype, which he did, according to Bondy.
Parnas’ lawyer says that Nunes traveled to Ukraine in the aftermath of the 2018 election after voters flipped 40 seats in the House of Representatives but before he lost the House Intelligence Committee Chairman’s gavel.
Amazingly, it appears that Rep. Nunes and his staffers might know more of the details about Trump’s plot to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election than we have even learned from the first 30 hours of televised public testimony. The CNBC report continues
The Nunes team’s scrapped trip to Ukraine has not been previously reported, nor have the meetings that Bondy said his client arranged in place of the overseas trip. The meetings took place in late March, and Derek Harvey, a senior investigator for Nunes, represented the congressman, according to Bondy. One of the meetings was with Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, and it was held over Skype, Parnas would tell Congress, according to Bondy. The second was a phone call Parnas arranged for Harvey with a deputy in Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office, Konstantin Kulik, Bondy added.
Both Kulik and Kholodnytsky have repeatedly claimed they witnessed corruption by Democratic operatives in Ukraine during the 2016 election. Neither official has produced evidence to support his account.
The entire sequence of events publicly implicating Devin Nunes in the impeachment inquiry that he has overseen as the top Republican began early last Thursday morning, just hours before the final public hearings began with star witnesses Fiona Hill and foreign service officer Daniel Holmes. Hill’s testimony hinted at a role by former House Intel staffer Kash Patel, which is still not fully known.
Brody the attorney told The Daily Beast that Rep. Nunes was involved with Lev Parnas on the eve of the final day of public hearings in the first round of impeachment testimony. Before and during that hearing, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) ominously called out the ranking member as potentially a fact witness of the investigation and entered a copy of that report into the permanent record.
Late the following night on Friday, CNN’s Vicky P.J. Ward dropped the bombshell story that Nunes had traveled to Ukraine last year, according to Brody, and he had met former prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin, the very man whose false claims are the dirt Trump wants to re-ignite for his own political benefit.
That same evening, watchdog group American Oversight published a cache of documents that they forced the State Department to release through a FOIA lawsuit. Those documents implicated Rep. Nunes in direct discussions with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
What happened next has opened the door to a House Ethics Committee investigation.
Today’s disclosures about Rep. Nunes’ unfolding role in GOP efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine also highlight the key role that State Department records—which are being withheld by the Trump Administration—will play in the center of the impeachment inquiry. Chairman Schiff said that alone could lead to an Article of Impeachment not unlike the one that the House Judiciary Passed 45-years-ago against former President Richard Nixon.
But the biggest damage could come if the California Republican is subpoenaed to testify for a deposition in front of his own committee under oath, as a fact witness, which could expose him to a crash landing like former Trump campaign manager Roger Stone, who was convicted just two weeks ago of lying to and obstructing their Russia election attack probe.
The alternative could be Rep. Nunes pleading the 5th Amendment to avoid self-incrimination or even giving testimony that is—like EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland—firsthand evidence that is damaging to President Trump.
Either way, if Devin Nunes is recused from the impeachment inquiry, punished by the House or forced to testify under oath, it will represent a sea change in the direction of the impeachment inquiry.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report. Find out more at grantstern.com.