Parnas Documents Destroy Trump’s Ukraine Defense

Parnas Documents Destroy Trump’s Ukraine Defense January 16, 2020

House investigators just released a trove of documents turned over by Lev Parnas, who helped Rudy Giuliani pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky to reopen an investigation into Hunter Biden, seeking to politically damage his father Joe, viewed by Trump as his primary 2020 threat. Those documents explode Trump’s defense that he was just trying to root our corruption in that country.

Volodymyr Zelensky presidential inauguration‎, 20th May 2019; credit to Ukrainian government

The documents contain a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky, dated May 10, in which Giuliani requests a meeting. The New York Times had just reported that Giuliani was set to undertake his pressure campaign.

In the letter, Giuliani explicitly states that he was representing Trump “as a private citizen, not as the president of the United States,” and also that Giuliani was carrying out this mission with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”

That confirms in Giuliani’s own words that his scheme was geared toward satisfying Trump’s personal interests, even as Giuliani was in effect carrying out U.S. foreign relations with an ally. Our national interests were subverted to Trump’s own, at Trump’s explicit direction.

One of Trump’s main defenses is that, in pressing Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden — and another that would absolve Russia of 2016 electoral sabotage — he was merely acting as a responsible leader. Yes, Trump froze hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid while demanding these investigations, but only because he reasonably wanted Ukraine to clean up “corruption”!

That has always been obvious nonsense, but the letter forcefully underscores the point: Trump’s defenders cannot explain why, if he was merely acting in the national interest throughout, he needed his private attorney to orchestrate the whole scheme, all to his private benefit.

So that excuse flushes down the drain. Not that it will matter to most Republicans, but it may help push Senators like Susan Collins, Lamar Alexander and a few others off the fence on issues like calling witnesses, especially John Bolton. Hope springs eternal. I guess.

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