Impeachment report: Rudy Giuliani was deeply involved in White House Ukraine push

Phone records suggest Giuliani coordinated with President Trump during his pressure campaign against Ukraine

Published December 4, 2019 11:45AM (EST)

Rudy Giuliani (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Rudy Giuliani (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Phone records unearthed in the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry report, which was released Tuesday, reveal that President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was in frequent contact with the White House during key moments in the Ukraine scandal.

The calls bolster claims that Giuliani coordinated with the White House on his efforts to push Ukraine to pursue investigations sought by Trump, something the former New York mayor had previously acknowledged. The records also disclose contact between a Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, and Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., one of Trump's most outspoken defenders in Congress and the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

The phone records were apparently turned over to the panel in response to subpoenas to AT&T and Verizon.

Giuliani's phone records include calls with a number listed only as "-1," sometimes close in time to calls between Giuliani and the White House switchboard, suggesting that the unmarked number might belong to Trump, though the report does not state that clearly. If the unidentified number belongs to Trump, phone calls with Giuliani could be further evidence of the president's involvement in the Ukraine affair.

The records show that Giuliani made several calls to the White House on April 24, the same day that Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was abruptly summoned to Washington and told by the State Department that Trump had lost confidence in her. Giuliani called the White House at least seven times that day between 7:47 a.m. and 8:09 p.m. He also received a call that day from a White House number and spent nearly nine minutes on the line with "-1."

The records disclose several calls and text messages in early August between Giuliani and numbers associated with the White House and the Office of Management and Budget. During that time, U.S. diplomats were trying to set up an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Giuliani's calls and texts include a nearly 13-minute call with an OMB official and "-1" on Aug. 8.

The report cites the phone records to bolster claims that Giuliani, his associates and "one or more individuals at the White House" coordinated a smear campaign against former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In the weeks before Biden's April 25 announcement that he would enter the 2020 race, the call records show contact between Giuliani, Parnas and John Solomon, then a conservative columnist for The Hill.

One the day that Biden officially threw his hat into the presidential ring, Solomon published a piece alleging that Ukraine, rather than Russia, had interfered in the 2016 presidential election and suggesting that Biden's efforts to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor was meant to prevent an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company for which his son served on the board.

At 7:14 p.m. that evening, Giuliani received a call from "-1" that lasted nearly five minutes. Minutes later, according to the phone records, Giuliani spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity for 36 seconds. Later that night, Trump appeared on Hannity's show and was asked about Solomon's latest column.

"That sounds like big, big stuff. I'm not surprised," Trump said on Hannity's program at the time.

The call records also reveal contact between Nunes and Giuliani and between Nunes and Parnas. Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, has accused Nunes and his staff of participating in Giuliani's efforts to collect negative information on the Bidens.

Call records cited in the report reveal that on May 10, as Giuliani came under intense scrutiny for a planned trip to Ukraine to meet Zelensky, the former New York mayor began trading calls with Kash Patel, an official at the White House National Security Council who previously worked for Nunes.

In the afternoon of that day, Giuliani and Patel finally connected and spoke for more than 25 minutes, according to the report. Five minutes after that call concluded, Giuliani connected with "-1" for more than 17 minutes. Shortly thereafter, Giuliani spoke with Parnas for roughly 12 minutes.

Patel has denied news reports — based in part on closed-door testimony from Fiona Hill, former top Russia adviser on the National Security Council — that he ran a secret back channel to Trump on Ukraine matters.

"At no time have I ever communicated with the president on any matters involving Ukraine," Patel said earlier this year in a statement to Axios. "Any reporting to the contrary, and any testimony provided to Congress, is simply false, and any current or former staff who suggest I have raised or discussed Ukraine matters with President Trump, are similarly misinformed or spreading outright falsehoods."

The report Tuesday does not detail any communications between Patel and Trump regarding Ukraine.

After his call with Patel and "-1," Giuliani appeared on Fox News and announced that he would cancel his trip to Ukraine, because "I think I'm walking into a group of people that are enemies of the president."

Nunes, speaking Tuesday to Hannity on Fox News, said that while he did not recall talking with Parnas, it was possible he had done so and needed to check his phone records. He said, "I remember the name now because he has been indicted ... but it seems very unlikely I'd be taking calls from random people."

Another Parnas lawyer, Edward B. MacMahon Jr., reiterated Tuesday that, "with appropriate protections," his client would "be able to tell his story and fill in the blanks." He added, "All the phone records show is that a phone call was made. It takes a participant in the phone call to tell you what was said."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Tuesday night that his panel is still examining the identity of the unmarked number who Giuliani was speaking with and doesn't yet know whether that person is Trump.

"We can't confirm yet who that -1 number belongs to," Schiff told CNN. "We certainly are investigating that. Rudy Giuliani only had one client in the administration — and that was Donald Trump."

Schiff noted in the interview that a number listed only as -1 turned up in phone records used as evidence in the criminal case against Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser to Trump who was convicted last month of seven felonies, including lying to Congress.

"We still have a lot of work to do in terms of identifying precisely who Giuliani was talking with and about what at what time in this chronology," Schiff said. "But even in the absence of that, the evidence is overwhelming that the president was using Giuliani to coerce Ukraine into these investigations."

The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Tuesday night to approve the 300-page report, which concluded that Trump had "compromised national security to advance his personal political interests" and then engaged in an "unprecedented campaign of obstruction" to prevent Congress from uncovering his misconduct.

At the heart of the inquiry are allegations that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and millions in military aid, sought by Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, to pressure Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, as well as an unsubstantiated theory that the Ukrainian government had conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The impeachment inquiry enters a new phase Wednesday, as the House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing. The panel, which has jurisdiction over drafting articles of impeachment, is hearing testimony from four constitutional scholars about the legal and historical underpinnings of the process.

By Shira Tarlo

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