The information is particularly problematic for the GOP congressman — the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee — because of his role in the House impeachment hearings concerning Donald Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to announce an investigation into the president’s political rival Joe Biden. Nunes participated in the hearings and strongly defended Trump, even though the records indicate he may have been involved in the operation. Nunes has denied any role in the scheme to press Ukraine to investigate Biden.
But text messages released Friday between Parnas and Harvey indicate that Nunes’s office was aware of the operation at the heart of the impeachment inquiry and that he sought to use the information Parnas was collecting. Texts show that Parnas was working last spring to set up calls for Harvey with the Ukrainian prosecutors who were allegedly providing information about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter to Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney.
Parnas, who has been indicted for alleged campaign finance violations, worked to strong-arm Ukraine into launching a Biden investigation. He said he was following Trump’s wishes, communicated to him by Giuliani.
Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow earlier this week that, although Nunes “couldn’t be in the spotlight,” he “wanted to help out” in the Ukraine operation. (See the video above.) Parnas said he was put in touch then with Harvey, who “knew everything” already when the two men talked, according to Parnas.
Parnas wrote to Harvey in a text on April 19: “Do you want to interview the general prosecutor who got [ditched] by Biden? Also the anti corruption prosecutor? Let me know.”
“Does tomorrow work?” Harvey responded, according to a text.
Texts also show that Harvey met with Parnas and Giuliani at the Trump hotel in Washington. Parnas told Maddow he met “several times” with Nunes at the hotel.
Parnas told Maddow he was “in shock” when he watched the impeachment hearings and “saw Devin Nunes sitting up there” with Harvey. “I texted my attorney. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ ... because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden.”
He added: “It’s hard to see them lie like that. It’s scary.”
A House report last month on Trump’s impeachment also noted several direct calls between Nunes and Parnas, according to logs.
Nunes said after the House report that he could not recall ever speaking with Parnas. But he told Fox News on Wednesday that his memory was refreshed after he reviewed his records.
“I checked it with my records, and it was very clear,” he said. “I remember that call, which was very odd, random, talking about random things. And I said, ‘Great, you know, just talk to my staff,’ and boom, boom, boom. That’s just normal operating procedure.”
But there were several phone calls, according to records noted in the House impeachment report.
Nunes’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.