Devin Nunes Billed Taxpayers $63,000 for a Jaunt to Europe Chasing Accused Fraudster Lev Parnas’ Disinformation

Betsy Woodruff Swan just put the maraschino cherry on the impeachment sundae with this story describing how Lev Parnas served as tour guide for a trip Devin Nunes, failed NSC staffer Derek Harvey, and two other House Intelligence staffers took to Europe last year.

Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Rep. Devin Nunes in 2018, Parnas’  lawyer Ed MacMahon told The Daily Beast.

Nunes aide Derek Harvey participated in the meetings, the lawyer said, which were arranged to help Nunes’ investigative work. MacMahon didn’t specify what those investigations entailed.

Nunes is the top Republican on the House committee handling the impeachment hearings—hearings where Parnas’s name has repeatedly come up.

Congressional records show Nunes traveled to Europe from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018. Three of his aides—Harvey, Scott Glabe, and George Pappas—traveled with him, per the records. U.S. government funds paid for the group’s four-day trip, which cost just over $63,000.

The travel came as Nunes, in his role on the House Intelligence Committee, was working to investigate the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling.

There’s much that’s crazy about the story: The inclusion of Harvey, a Mike Flynn loyalist who got fired from NSC; the role of Parnas’ lawyer, Ed MacMahon (who seems to be aiming to discomfort as many of the powerful people Parnas interacted with as possible); and the release of this story at the end of a week during which Nunes offered debunked conspiracy after debunked conspiracy in a bid to defend Trump.

But it’s the timing of the trip I find most interesting. While I’m sure Swan has a reason to invoke Nunes’ efforts to undercut Mueller, the trip actually comes long after HPSCI had moved on from trying to confuse about the Russian investigation. The effort had been picked up by a joint House Judiciary/Oversight effort; and even that was largely over by December 2018. Just as interestingly, the trip came after Republicans got shellacked in mid-term elections but before Democrats took over in the House. That is, this seems like a last ditch effort to chase down something that accused fraudster Lev Parnas was dangling in front of easy marks, while Nunes still had unfettered ability to squander taxpayer funds.

Devin Nunes has spent 2.5 years squealing that a respected Russian expert, Christopher Steele, shared information with DOJ with our own experts on organized crime, because that information was paid for by DNC. But he’s now billing taxpayers to chase after disinformation from an obvious grifter.

35 replies
  1. harpie says:

    From Fiona Hill’s opening statement today:

    Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country – and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves

  2. bmaz says:

    Dear “Mister Sterling”, no, those words are not allowed here, whether you are British or not. Your attempted comment is in the trash bin.

  3. Geoff says:

    $4,000, per person, per day. Please make sure that bill is itemized. I mean, even if you fly first class, and stay at the Four Seasons, that might eat up only half of the $16k per person for the trip. How do they justify this crap? It’s beyond a junket. Chasing down a conspiracy theory whist living like royalty? I’d like to see Devin explain this to his constituency.

  4. dadidoc1 says:

    It looks like they spent $14,201.43 per person on transportation and around $1900 per person on housing/meals.

  5. Jim White says:

    Sure would be nice to see the itinerary for this trip. I’ve poked through stories mentioning Nunes in the December 2018 through January 2019 time window and I don’t see any “new” theories from him in that time slot, so if Parnas was offering something “explosive”, it looks like Nunes didn’t agree.

    For now, my best guess is that they may have been doing advance work with Lutsenko, who announced his “investigation” in March, only to withdraw it later. Lutsenko came to New York to meet with Giuliani in January, so maybe this meeting was being arranged. In fact, I wonder if they even fed Lutsenko with documents (link:

    By the new year, Parnas said, he and Fruman had also connected Giuliani with Shokin’s replacement as top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko. The Ukrainian official and Giuliani met in New York in January and again in Warsaw the following month.

    “[Lutsenko] brought documentation, verification. It opened Giuliani’s eyes,” Parnas said.

    Note that Lutsenko also worked in that same early 2019 period to spread disinformation about the black ledger disclosure re Manafort and added fuel to the smear campaign against Yovanovitch.

      • ernesto1581 says:

        Too bad they couldn’t get in a quick visit to Anatevka. You know, a little wine, a little song, a little dancing. Rabbi Moshe Azman, going around dressed like Tevye, shilling for donations. And Devin likes cows. So it’s all good.
        After all, “Anatevka is the best place in the world,” according to Igor Fruman.

        (“Moshe, how are you, baby?” R. Giuliani, World’s Favorite Mayor)

    • Eureka says:

      In fact, I wonder if they even fed Lutsenko with documents

      Sounds about right for this crew.

      While Nunes & staff (etc.) have been on the radar of corruption for awhile now, it was still disturbing to read DB last night and recognize, again, the number of bad apples and their growing intersections. It really makes me sick, the apparent betrayal.

  6. klynn says:

    The G20 was going on then right?
    Maybe, because Trump had to cancel his Putin meeting at the G-20 due to the “bad look” it would have because of Russia and Ukraine Naval clash, a backchannel meeting was hatched?

    Maybe the Nunes trip was a back channel meeting for Trump and Putin via water carriers?

    • Donna says:

      You are thinking of this years G20.

      Last year’s G20 was held Nov 30, 2018 – Dec 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And Nunes went to Europe in that time frame. I was just looking at the cost of first class round trip to Vienna (Where Rudy and the two Ukrainians were headed) – It’s around $13,500.00 for the dates Nov 30 – Dec 3

      Nunes transportation was $14,201.43

  7. Arj says:

    ‘Europe’ is a vague destination – would be interesting to learn more specifics.
    @klynn: Nunes seems too clown-like for the back-channel role – but then…

  8. Raven Eye says:

    The Speaker and committee chairpersons are who approve foreign travel. Was Nunes trying to get in under the wire, or would the Democrats soon to take over those positions be likely to approve the travel pro forma?

    Regardless, under House Rules: “(3) Each member or employee of a committee shall make to the chair of the committee an itemized report showing the dates each country was visited, the amount of per diem furnished, the cost of transportation furnished, and funds expended for any other official purpose and shall summarize in these categories the total foreign currencies or appropriated funds expended. Each report shall be filed with the chair of the committee not later than 60 days following the completion of travel for use in complying with reporting requirements in applicable Federal law and shall be open for public inspection.”

  9. Zinsky says:

    Devin Nunes’ keen intellect shines through in his erudite opening remarks in the current impeachment inquiry hearings. Demanding every day that Hunter Biden appear as a witness in Donald J. Trump’s impeachment inquiry is like demanding that Nancy Reagan’s astrologer appear as a witness in the Iran-Contra hearings. I’m surprised Nunes hasn’t fingered Sasquatch or the Loch Ness monster as the real source of the DNC server hack. He is pathetic.

  10. observiter says:

    Trump bought an election and is trying to do it again, with the help of Russia. Nothing we don’t know. Trump seems to have made a deal. The American right-wing extremists also appear to have followed a similar path to get their extremist policies implemented. They both don’t seem to have much confidence that the American public would back them without this help.

    It’s disgusting and at times almost funny watching Nunes and Jordan, etc. The public is starting not to buy what is being dished out and the two of them seem very worried, panicked.

    Correct me if I’m wrong: Ukraine has undergone more than just the physical intrusion by Russia. I believe I read that Russia’s hackers have been using Ukraine for a long time as a cyber-control practice bed — to test how to control Ukraine’s electric grid, power generation stations, etc. And that Russia is now very successful at this.

    • FiestyBlueBird says:

      You are not wrong. You are quite correct. Sandworm. Andy Greenfield details this in a frighteningly clear way in his new book by that name. It is an extraordinary read. Portions of the book have appeared in (or been adopted from) some pieces he did for Wired Magazine. It was approaching fifteen below zero outside near midnight a couple of years ago as I lay in bed reading his Wired piece detailing the remote take down of a portion of the Ukrainian grid. Got my attention. This is a very under-reported story. There’s too many details flooding my mind of the things Andy has laid out to try to go on here. Read the book.

  11. Bruce Olsen says:

    So now we know why Trump was white as a sheet (and backed Putin’s denial of interference) in Helsinki.

    Putin told him, in that meeting, exactly what had to happen and how to do it.

  12. TXphysicist says:

    Longtime, intermittent lurker. Great stuff, as always, Marcy.

    Eric Swalwell brought this up today during the public hearing, and filed the DailyBeast article on Nunes and Parnas into the official record. He also suggested that Devin Nunes could be a potential fact witness, either related to the impeachment inquiry, or otherwise.

    There is another curious link between the Nunes camp and Trump’s Ukraine policy, in the form of Kashyap Patel. I recall seeing in a comment that new members cannot post links, which is fine, it’s easily Google-able. If there have been prior emptywheel exposés on Patel, and I’ve missed them, my apologies. I can only find a recent comment thread related to Patel, with the thread started by harpie.

    Anyway, thanks for your investigative work, to Marcy, Rayne, bmaz, the rest, and the community of commenters. You guys keep me a little more sane. :)

    • bmaz says:

      Greetings TXPhysicist! Thank you for joining in. This is a better place when more people delurk and engage in the discussion. Please do so more often, and thank you for the comment.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What bmaz said. Comment often. Links are recommended for new or controversial issues. Readers tend to cite the original or useful commentary sites, avoid those known for propaganda or privacy violations, and delete the tracking information at the end of some addresses.

      Kash Patel has been discussed several times. He appears to be a gofer, whose hapless legal experience goes from one embarrassment to the next. He has successfully attached himself to Nunes and now Trump.

      • bmaz says:

        “Hapless legal experience”. He seems to have been in some roles he never was quite ready for. And, yet, here he is. It makes one wince.

      • TXphysicist says:

        Thanks, I’ll stick around :).

        Agree on Patel. It seems like Nunes and those in his orbit have authoritarian tendencies not only in their refusal to conduct executive oversight, but in suppressing speech or expression damaging to their reputation. The veracity of the content they’re trying to “cancel” using defamation lawsuits is of no concern to them.

        Who is paying for the lawsuits? Could be personal funding, but could it be from GOP re-election campaign coffers? Genuinely asking. Seems like GOP re-election slush funds are wishing wells wealthy foreigners huck million dollar bills into, so there should be monies aplenty for frivolous lawsuits.

    • TXphysicist says:

      So it turns out that the second-ranking member of the primary House impeachment inquiry committee, which is investigating a shadow foreign policy centered on Ukrainian investigations of the Bidens, was involved in a shadow foreign policy centered on Ukrainian investigations of the Bidens.

      His failure to disclose this information prior to the formalized impeachment proceedings requires far beyond some slap on the wrist from an ethics watchdog group. At the very least, he needs to be removed from the intelligence committee, but hasn’t he committed crimes, here?

  13. Basil Forthrightly says:

    The other point related to this is that money for Congressional junketing isn’t a blank check.

    In particular, partisan activity on the Federal dime is prohibited; I’d assume it’s actually criminal on this level, assuming Nunes had no other purpose, ostensibly legitimate, for this trip.

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