Saturday, November 23, 2019

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

Several stories related to the impeachment inquiry broke late last night, so we'll review.  First, and arguably most important: indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas's lawyer says Parnas is willing to testify to Congress against Giuliani...and GOP Rep. Devin Nunes.
A lawyer for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani tells CNN that his client is willing to tell Congress about meetings the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee had in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden. 
The attorney, Joseph A. Bondy, represents Lev Parnas, the recently indicted Soviet-born American who worked with Giuliani to push claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine. Bondy said that Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes. 
"Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December," said Bondy
Shokin was ousted from his position in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including then-vice president Biden, over concerns that Shokin was not pursuing corruption cases. 
Nunes is one of President Donald Trump's key allies in Congress and has emerged as a staunch defender of the President during the impeachment inquiry, which he has frequently labeled as a "circus." Nunes declined repeated requests for comment. 
Bondy tells CNN that his client and Nunes began communicating around the time of the Vienna trip. Parnas says he worked to put Nunes in touch with Ukrainians who could help Nunes dig up dirt on Biden and Democrats in Ukraine, according to Bondy. 
That information would likely be of great interest to House Democrats given its overlap with the current impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and could put Nunes in a difficult spot. 
Bondy tells CNN his client is willing to comply with a Congressional subpoena for documents and testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry in a manner that would allow him to protect his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Bondy suggested in a tweet on Friday that he was already speaking to House Intel though the committee declined to comment

Somebody's gonna have a rotten Thanksgiving. Several somebodies, in fact.  And this is pretty huge news because Nunes's direct involvement in the Ukraine scandal means he has to recuse himself from the hearings, oh and yeah, there's the legal issues too.

And over in the Senate?  Republicans there were briefed that Russia was running disinformation ops to blame Ukraine for the 2016 election meddling, something Donald Trump has bought into full bore.

In a classified briefing this fall, US intelligence officials told senators and their aides that Russia has engaged in a years-long campaign to shift the blame away from Russia and onto Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 American presidential campaign, according to two US officials.

That briefing aligns closely with Thursday’s testimony from Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia expert. The message conveyed by US intelligence officials to lawmakers also takes on new relevance as many of those conspiracy theories have been increasingly repeated by Republican lawmakers.

Senators were told that the Russian disinformation operation focused on a handful of Ukrainians who openly criticized or sought to damage Trump’s candidacy — efforts that were significantly less organized than the multi-faceted election interference push ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, one US official said, confirming details first reported by the New York Times.

US intelligence officials also told lawmakers that Russia used intelligence operatives to spread now debunked conspiracies, along with established facts, to frame Ukraine for the interference in the 2016 campaign, the official said.

Russian intelligence officers conveyed that information to prominent Russians and Ukrainians, including oligarchs, to pass along to US political figures and some journalists who likely were unaware of where it came from, according to the same official.

All roads lead to Russia and Putin in the end with Trump and the GOP.  They are compromised so badly that our republic is failing because of it.

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