Unredacted materials indicate House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) may have mischaracterized a text message from Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas referencing “Mr. Z” as referencing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to Politico.
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Schiff said Parnas “continued to try to arrange a meeting with President Zelensky,” citing the text in question, where Parnas tells Giuliani he is “trying to get us mr Z.”
However, the unredacted communications show Parnas referring to Mykola Zlochevsky, founder of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, as “mr Z” in a Word document outlining his notes after meeting with Zlochevsky.
President Trump seized on the revelation of the unredacted material, calling it a “big story” on Twitter, and it is likely to provide further ammunition among Republicans who have accused Schiff of rushing to judgment on impeachment.
Big story. Hope Fake News covers it! https://t.co/NCtUYK6Eco
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2020
“Given the selective redactions and contextual clues, it seems as though Chairman Schiff sought to portray an innocuous meeting with Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky as an insidious one with the President of Ukraine simply because both of their surnames start with the letter Z,” a senior Republican aide told the publication.
A Democratic official working on the impeachment trial told Politico that figures involved in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the issue at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, frequently used “z” in reference to Zelensky. The official did not dispute that Schiff misidentified the subject of the Parnas message.
“Beginning with Mr. Giuliani’s May 10 letter to President Zelensky two months earlier and leading up to Mr. Giuliani’s August 2 meeting with Mr. Zelensky’s representatives in Spain, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Parnas actively sought high-level engagement with President Zelensky and his administration to carry out the President’s corrupt scheme,” the official said. “If Mr. Giuliani sought out dirt from other sources, that would be consistent with their overall effort.”
Giuliani’s attempts to arrange a Zelensky meeting have been documented elsewhere, but it remains unclear what role Parnas, who was indicted last year in connection with an alleged campaign finance fraud scheme, played in those efforts.
The Hill has reached out to Schiff’s office for comment.