It appears there's another documented quid pro quo tied to President Trump's efforts to procure from Ukraine some sort of damaging information about potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden — or at least make it appear such evidence might exist. In a cache of documents released late Tuesday by House impeachment investigators, Ukraine's top prosecutor offered to hand Biden-linked information over to Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani if Trump pushed out U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
The documents are from Lev Parnas, a Russian-speaking Giuliani associate who helped Giuliani's Biden dirt-digging efforts in Ukraine. In handwritten notes on Ritz Carlton Vienna stationary, Parnas mentioned getting Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky "to annouce [sic] that the Biden case will be investigated," and it appears Yuri Lutsenko, the prosecutor general at the time, was ready to play ball.
"Lutsenko wanted to get rid of Yovanovitch," The Washington Post explains, "in part because she had been critical of his office and supported a quasi-independent anti-corruption bureau he despised."
"If you don’t make a decision about Madam — you are bringing into question all my allegations. Including about B," Lutsenko wrote Parnas in a March 2019 text message translated from Russian. "Madam" is a reference to Yovanovitch and "B" means either Biden or Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that hired Hunter Biden. After Parnas told Lutsenko a few days later that "soon everything will turn around and we'll be on the right course," Lutsenko texted he had "testimony about transfers to B" and "copies of payments from Burisma to Senaca," referring to a consulting firm founded by Hunter Biden and fellow Burisma board member Devon Archer.
While the context surrounding the situation is limited, new impeachment evidence made available Tuesday suggests former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch may have had her movements tracked with the knowledge of a current GOP congressional candidate and an associate of President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas, who has been indicted for funneling foreign money into U.S. elections and is known for aiding the former New York City mayor in his quest to pressure Ukraine into investigating Trump's domestic political rivals, handed over evidence to House impeachment investigators this week in compliance with a congressional subpoena.
In the evidence Congress obtained there's a series of text messages between Parnas and Robert Hyde — who is currently running for a House seat in Connecticut as a Republican — concerning Yovanovitch. The ambassador was the subject of a Giuliani-orchestrated smear campaign and was eventually forced out of her role because of the perception she was undermining the Trump administration's policy in the region. In response to some articles Parnas sent to Hyde about Yovanovitch, Hyde referred to the ambassador using crude language before indicating he had people on the ground in Kyiv surveilling Yovanovitch. "They are willing to help if we/you would like a price," he wrote to Parnas.