One of the reasons I refuse to make predictions about the future of the Trump administration, or even of the impeachment process, is that things are changing every. single. minute.
Tonight, just on the cusp of the House articles of impeachment going over to the Senate, the House Intelligence Committee, the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs transmitted to the House Judiciary Committee some of the material it has garnered from indicted political operative Lev Parnas’s phones. While there were two files—one is secret because it involves sensitive personal information—the other has provided material that is a game changer in three ways.
First of all, much of it is damning in its own right. Second, it will force Trump either to admit he was part of the Ukraine scheme all along or to call his friend (and sometime lawyer) Rudy Giuliani a liar. Third, it will add fuel to the fire that is making Trump so terribly angry and erratic these days, which will likely mean his behavior will only get worse. But with this new material in front of them, along with more that we have not seen, it is unlikely Republican leaders will be willing to continue to defend him except in the most general of ways.
The documents begin with a series of notes apparently written by Parnas on the stationery of the Ritz-Carleton in Vienna They literally start with him writing: “get Zalensky to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” They note that Dimitry Firtash, the Ukrainian oligarch we now know was funding the whole Ukrainian escapade, and who is living in Vienna, was “*Toxic,*” and noted “*Rudy.*” Indeed, skeptic that I am, these notes seem almost too perfect, and I would worry they were constructed after the fact for his defense except that these devices were confiscated upon Parnas's arrest.
There is also a May 10, 2019 letter from Rudy Giuliani, representing himself as Trump’s personal lawyer, to the newly elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking Zelensky for a meeting. “In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent,” he asked for a meeting to discuss a particular matter. This runs counter to Trump’s frequent insistence that whatever he did in Ukraine was for the American people: here Giuliani lays out that whatever is happening is for Trump himself. Also, remember that on November 26, Trump denied that he had directed Giuliani to ask Zelensky about the Bidens. But now it seems there is evidence Giuliani was acting with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.” Trump will have to distance himself from this… but can he? It seems likely Giuliani has dirt on Trump from the days when Giuliani was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1983-1989, the heyday of Trump’s rise in New York real estate, as Giuliani has previously hinted.
There are also texts from Giuliani to Parnas, saying that he can overrule the decision of the Ukraine embassy, then under the direction of Marie Yovanovitch, not to give Viktor Shokin, the corrupt former Prosecutor General of Ukraine, a visa. He texted: “It’s going to work I have no 1 in it”
There is sharing of stories from Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Don Bongino about attacks on US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich.
And, following these texts, in an exchange that has had Twitter on fire since the documents dropped, Connecticut congressional hopeful Robert F. Hyde and an unknown (to us) correspondent, although it seems likely to be Lev Parnas, appear to show that Hyde had Ambassador Yovanovitch under surveillance, and that he explored having her attacked or assassinated. It is worth, in this context, remembering that Trump told Zelensky that Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things,” suggesting that he knew about this plot.
“Fuck that bitch,” Hyde wrote on March 22, 2019. (Yovanovitch was highly regarded, and one of our very top diplomats.)
The next day he texted: “Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this bitch. I’ll get right in that”
Then: “She under heavy protection outside Kiev”
Unidentified [probably Lev Parnas]: “I know crazy shit”
Hyde: “My guy thinks maybe FSB..?” [FSB is Russian security]
More exchanges of news stories about removing Yovanovitch.
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “What should I do with this?
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “They are moving her tomorrow
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “The guys over they asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them”
Hyde: March 25, 2019: “Wake up Yankees man”
Hyde: March 25, 2019: “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off.”
Hyde: March 25, 2019: “She’s next to the embassy”
Hyde: March 25, 2019: “Not in the embassy”
Hyde: March 25, 2019: “Private security. Been there since Thursday”
Likely Parnas: March 25, 2019 “Interesting”
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “They know she’s a political puppet”
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “They will let me know when she’s on the move”
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “And they’ll let me know when she’s on the move”
Unidentified [probably Lev Parnas]: March 25, 2019: “Perfect”
Hyde: March 25, 2019, “I mean where if they can find out.”
Hyde: March 25, 2019: “That address I sent you checks out”
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “It’s next to the embassy”
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price”
Hyde, March 25, 2019: “Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money… what I was told”
Unidentified [probably Lev Parnas]: “Lol”
Hyde: March 26, 2019: “Update she will not be moved special security unit upgraded force on the compound people are already aware of the situation my contacts are asking what is the next step because they cannot keep going to check people will start to ask questions”
Hyde: March 26, 2019: “If you want her out they need to make contact with security forces”
Hyde: March 26, 2019: “From Ukrainians”
Hyde: March 27, 2019: “What’s the word bro”
Hyde: March 27, 2019: “Any good stuff?
Unidentified [probably Lev Parnas]: March 27, 2019: “Call you soon in studio.”
… those texts go on, but that’s the gist.
You will remember that Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine abruptly out of concerns for her safety. Hyde, who is running for Congress from Connecticut, tweeted a picture of Yovanovitch while she was testifying before the House. It falsely accused her of a number of crimes and said: “Maria is a yuge pos. She has so much dirt on the Clinton’s and Bidens. Such a scumbag. #draintheswamp#mariaisatraitor#trump2020#hyde2020.” When reached for comment after this story broke, Hyde wrote: “Bull Schiff is a giant b*tch.”
A couple of other points before I fall back into bed to try to break this bug. In the letter transmitting the material, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff wrote “Despite unprecedented obstruction by the President, the Committee continues to receive and review potentially relevant evidence and will make supplemental transmittals… as appropriate.”
Now, if you were someone trying desperately to protect the president, wouldn’t this give you pause? You have no idea what’s out there. Surely, the news that there are text messages contemplating an attack on an American ambassador will make you wonder what else these bozos felt it was okay to put in writing. Do you really want to be on record for these people?
When this story broke, a friend texted me to ask if Trump was really the Godfather. I answered no. The leaders of the Italian mafia at the turn of the last century had to be incredibly smart because the system was stacked against them. They had to be able to evade laws, and police forces, and community standards, or be arrested. Today’s criminals have the benefit of a generation of laws rigged in their favor, so they did not have to be clever. All they had to be was corrupt.
And, hoo, boy… were they corrupt.
(Another unedited night. I cannot seem to break this bug. Thanks for your patience.)
Trump on Yovanovitch: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/us/politics/yovanovitch-trump-ukraine-ambassador.html
HYDE for U.S. Congress @rfhyde1We elected President Trump to drain the swamp of traitors like this. Maria is a yuge pos. She has so much dirt on the Clinton’s and Bidens. Such a scumbag. #draintheswamp #mariaisatraitor #trump2020 #hyde2020 https://t.co/nDMHLtQrFa