Giuliani associate Lev Parnas confesses to conveying the quid pro quo to Ukraine for Trump

I’d wanted to talk about former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and whether she’s angling to take the vice presidency away from Mike Pence, but then Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas came along fucked up my plans by announcing to the world that he’d reached out to the incoming Zelensky government as far back as May on behalf of the Trump administration, telling them that, if Ukraine didn’t announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Pence wouldn’t be attended his swearing-in as President, and the U.S. would freeze the military aid they so desperately needed.

Here’s how the New York Times story begins.

Not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s journeyed to Kiev to deliver a warning to the country’s new leadership, a lawyer for the associate said.

The associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said.

The claim by Mr. Parnas, who is preparing to share his account with impeachment investigators, challenges the narrative of events from Mr. Trump and Ukrainian officials that is at the core of the congressional inquiry. It also directly links Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to threats of repercussions made to the Ukrainians, something he has strenuously denied…

If corroborated, Parnas’s account would prove that this extortion plot cooked up by Trump and Giuliani started quite a bit earlier than we’d previously thought. And, of course, it would disprove Giuliani’s claim that he was not involved in any discussions concerning the withholding military aid to Ukraine. More importantly, though, Parnas isn’t just saying that these things were discussed by members of the Trump team. He’s not saying, as others have, that he heard the President’s call with Zelensky and found it troubling. He’s saying that he was given explicit instructions to convey the quid pro quo, and that he did so.

I should also mention that Parnas, along with his associate Igor Fruman, is also thought to have bribed former Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, offering $20,000 in exchange for his help in removing Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, from office. [According to ABC News, Parnas and Fruman also contributed $350,000 to a SuperPAC that channeled approximately $3 million to Sessions’ 2018 reelection campaign.] Sessions, it would seem, accepted the deal, and authored a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking that he consider “terminating” Yovanovitch’s “ambassadorship and find a replacement as soon as possible.” The letter was sent by Sessions on May 9, so roughly around the same time that Parnas was conveying the terms of the deal to Zelensky and his people. [This gambit, by the way, worked, and Yovanovitch was pulled out of Ukraine.] As for why they wanted Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the foreign service, out of the way, one can assume it was because she did not share their opinion that U.S. diplomacy should take the form of extortion for personal political gain, especially when it would mean withholding aid desperately needed to protect Ukraine from Russian aggression.

One last thing… It should be noted that, had it not been for the whistleblower’s complaint of August 12, and the fact that the State Department wasn’t successful in keeping it under wraps, this plan cooked up by Trump and Giuliani could very well have worked. As we know now, Zelensky had already booked an appeared on CNN with Fareed Zakaria during which he apparently planned to announce the investigation into the Bidens. This was to have taken place on September 13, but it fell apart when the scheme was made public.

Trump, of course, continues to maintain that everything he did was “perfect.”

note: The “transcript” Trump keeps referring to, and asking people to read, is not a transcript. Right at the top of the document, it says that it’s “not a verbatim transcript.” Furthermore, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, has testified before Congress that the document in question is inaccurate, in that several items of importance were purposely omitted… So, while I’d like to do what the President wants, and “read the transcript,” I can’t. No one can. The actual transcript, which is must exist somewhere within the White House, has yet to be made public.

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  1. breaking news
    Posted November 10, 2019 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    VINDMAN OUT AT NSC: After testifying on the Hill, NSA O’Brien says Alexander Vindman will be removed from the National Security Council. “Everyone who’s detailed at the NSC, people are going…back to their own departments and we’ll bring in new folks”

  2. Eel
    Posted November 11, 2019 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    But he found a stadium where he wasn’t booed!

  3. Julia Davis by proxy
    Posted November 11, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    The meeting took place in May, in Kyiv, with only 3 people in attendance: Parnas, Fruman and Serhiy Shefir, a member of the inner circle of President Zelenskyy. The sit-down took place at an outdoor cafe. The men sipped coffee and spoke in Russian.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted November 11, 2019 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Ben Rhodes on what Nikki Haley is trying to do.

    “What we’ve seen from Nikki Haley for last several years is effort to calibrate her public image to stand behind Pres Trump but at same time-saying I’m a different Republican & have a different foreign policy on Russia & Ukraine. She can’t have it both ways.”

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