After weeks of equivocating, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) declared that why, yes, he does recall speaking with Lev Parnas, an indicted Giuliani associate involved in the Ukraine scandal, but it was just a “random” call about “random things.” Unfortunately for Nunes, two days later, documents were released showing extensive interactions between his aide and Parnas.
On Fox News’ The Story with Martha MacCallum Wednesday, host MacCallum just happened to ask Nunes if he had figured out why he had appeared in Parnas’ phone records subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee, where Nunes is the ranking member.
Last month, Nunes had claimed on Fox it was “possible” but “we have not been able to confirm” that he had spoken with Parnas. Later in December, Nunes told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo that he had gotten a call from Parnas’ wife and had referred it to staff. “We've checked all of our records. We have no information from Parnas. We have no documents. We have no -- we have nothing,” Nunes said.
This week, Nunes told MacCallum that he had spoken to Lev Parnas after all. He said that when previously asked by MacCallum about the phone records, “I just didn’t know the names, this name Parnas.” Nunes added that his work on the committee requires “dealing with people every day” and “incoming calls that come to my office, to my cell phone, et cetera, et cetera.”
“Sure,” MacCallum said agreeably. Then Nunes explained what he now remembers.
NUNES: And then you know now that he had called my cell phone and I didn’t know his name. I didn’t remember the name. But I did remember - going back, looking at where I was at the time, because you know, you can do that now, you actually know where you physically are, checked it with my records and it was very clear. I remember that call, which was very odd, random, talked about random things, and I said, “Great, you know, just talk to my staff and boom, boom, boom,” which is normal, standard operating procedure.
Standard operating procedure to call a U.S. congressman on his cell phone to chat about random things? MacCallum didn’t question a word. She went on to ask a question not related to what Parnas has alleged about Nunes:
MACCALLUM: So there was no discussion about, about the Ukrainian ambassador? Was there any discussion about the Ukrainian ambassador and the fact that she should be removed in that call?
But Nunes’ alleged involvement in the Ukraine scandal is about the Bidens, not Yovanovitch. Parnas reportedly helped Rudy Giuliani dig up dirt on the Bidens. Parnas claims he worked to connect Nunes with Ukrainians who could help dig up dirt on the Bidens and Democrats.
So MacCallum’s question just happened to allow Nunes to deny something not related to his alleged involvement and to paint any involvement as related to Democratic wrongdoing.
NUNES: Well, the first time I remember the name Yovanovitch, the ambassador, was not until this impeachment sham started. ... We still had an ongoing investigation into what the Clinton campaign – specifically Fusion GPS and others – who, in Ukraine they were working with and why they were involved in the Russia hoax. And now, the Democrats have denied that but it is very clear that the Democrats were heavily involved in getting Ukrainians to talk about dirt and dig up dirt on Trump campaign officials.
But yesterday, House Democrats released more evidence of Nunes’ involvement in Trump’s Ukraine scandal in the form of text messages between Parnas and Nunes aide Derek Harvey.
From The Washington Post:
The newly released texts show that Parnas was working last spring to set up calls for Harvey with the Ukrainian prosecutors who were feeding Giuliani information about Biden.
The text messages corroborate Parnas’s previous claims that he arranged conversations with the Ukrainian prosecutors for the Nunes aide. And they deepen questions about how much Nunes knew about the pressure campaign — even as he served as one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders during the House impeachment hearings.
“I was in shock when I was watching the hearings and when I saw Devin Nunes sitting up there,” Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow this week. “I texted my attorney. I said, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’”
You can watch Nunes’ recollections below, from the January 15, 2020 The Story with Martha MacCallum.