2019-11-21 20:39:331 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
It seems Rudy Giuliani's associates, at least one of them, are more connected than previously thought. One of the two Florida men who have been arrested on charges unrelated to the Ukraine quid pro quo, Lev Parnas, along with having connections to Giuliani and Donald Trump, also helped Rep. Devin Nunes with investigative work in Europe.
Parnas and Igor Fruman reportedly fed the conspiracy theories to Giuliani regarding Ukraine being responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee servers to help former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her 2016 presidential campaign, and that former Vice President Joe Biden tried to oust the Ukraine prosecutor general to help Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, where his son served on the board.
But first, Parnas tried to get the Trump administration interested in the Biden conspiracy theory, yet they weren't interested in receiving the information officially.
After their names became public, the two were arrested trying to leave the country, immediately after they were seen having lunch with Giuliani. They were charged with providing foreign money to U.S elections, something the government had been investigating for months.
There have been many pictures that have turned up in the months since, showing that Trump also had a previous relationship with the two men. Parnas first resisted speaking with impeachment investigators, then started talking, accusing the president of falsely denying a relationship with them. New attorneys announced he was ready to comply with a subpoena, but so far he has not testified.
While he has lived in the U.S. since he was four, his attorney Joseph Bondy explained that he has a "zeal for America and its democratic values. At all times throughout, he has believed what he was doing was a 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 involving 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."
His continued silence was probably good news to Nunes, the top Republican in the House Intelligence Committee, as Parnas's attorney Ed MacMahon told The Daily Beast that his client helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Nunes last year to help the congressman with his investigative work, though the investigations he helped with are unknown.
According to congressional records, Nunes traveled to Europe last year from November 30 through December 3. He had three aides traveling with him. One of them was Derek Harvey, who also participated in the meetings. The others were Scott Glabe and George Pappas. The government paid for the trip at a cost of over $63,000.
At the time, Nunes was investigating the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia and obstruction of justice probes.
Nunes is currently heading up the Republican side of the impeachment hearings, doing his part to criticize the investigation and the media coverage. "In their mania to attack the president, no conspiracy theory is too outlandish for the Democrats," he said before Ambassador Gordon Sondland's damaging testimony.
Later, he accused Democrats of harboring "Watergate fantasies," noting, "I guess they fantasize about this at night."
Interestingly, while the names of Parnas and Fruman have come up in the hearings, Nunes has never mentioned his connection to Parnas.
While the congressman traveled in Europe in 2018, Giuliani was trying to get then-U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch removed from her position. The indictment of Parnas and Fruman alleges that 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."
Many officials have testified in the impeachment hearings that the claims against Yovanovitch were without merit. Nunes headed up the GOP's questioning of her when she took the witness stand this week.
But Nunes's name has been part of a story as well regarding foreign influence. When congressional investigators first began looking into the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, the congressman went to the White House late at night and said the next day that he'd found evidence of Intelligence Community officials' egregious wrongdoing.
It seemed like the operation was designed to back up Trump's tweet that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. He also ran a parallel probe to Mueller's Russia investigation which led to Trump and Fox Newsman Sean Hannity holding him in high regard.
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