Remember when Trump said: “I know people that like the Confederate flag and they're not thinking about slavery”. Maybe we can finally get to that obstruction of justice because the former United States President tried to blackmail Ukraine into helping him cheat in our 2020 election. We’ll have more chances to think about it if military action ramps up in Ukraine this summer, because it’s always been about mobsters.
Given all the ways President Donald Trump betrayed this country — the Russiagate scandal of 2016, the catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, the incitement of deadly mob violence to disrupt official ratification of his 2020 loss — it’s easy to forget about the importance of the Ukraine affair.
Trump’s corruption of U.S. foreign policy to strong-arm an ally into helping his reelection is almost like the forgotten stepchild of Trump scandals, even though it got him impeached (the first time).
But the news that federal investigators have executed a search warrant against Rudolph W. Giuliani is a reminder of just how crowning a betrayal Trump’s subversion of the national interest in that scandal truly was. It’s also a reminder that the full puzzle of that complex tale is still being filled in.
Late 2018: Nunes-Parnas connection, and designation of Harvey as intermediary
“Following a brief in-person meeting in late 2018, Parnas and Nunes had at least two more phone conversations, and…Nunes instructed Parnas to work with Harvey on the Ukraine matters,” according to Parnas’s attorney Bondy, CNN reports.
Nov. 6, 2018: Midterm elections – Democrats win a majority of seats in the House
November 2018: Parnas helps arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Nunes and his aide, Derek Harvey, the Daily Beast’s Betsy Swan reports.
Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018: Nunes, Harvey reportedly meet Shokin secretly in Vienna
Nunes and three aides, including Harvey, travel to Europe, according to congressional travel records.
The timing of the trip was designed to keep its details secret from Congress, Lev Parnas’ attorney Bondy told CNN. “Mr. Parnas learned through Nunes‘ investigator, Derek Harvey, that the Congressman had sequenced this trip to occur after the midterm elections yet before Congress’ return to session, so that Nunes would not have to disclose the trip details to his Democrat colleagues in Congress,” said Bondy.
Nunes meets with the highly corrupt former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin in Vienna to dig up dirt on Biden, according to Parnas, who says he is willing to provide congressional testimony under penalty of law (CNN). Parnas helps arrange the meeting.“Nunes had told Shokin of the urgent need to launch investigations into Burisma, Joe and Hunter Biden, and any purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election,” Bondy tells CNN.
(Asked during a Nov. 24, 2019, interview on Fox News whether he met with Shokin in Vienna, Nunes refused to answer.)
The Washington Post cites “an individual close to Shokin” as saying the prosecutor has never heard of Nunes and that no such meeting took place.
Sometime in December: Giuliani has a Skype conversation with Shokin, who relays his allegations against Biden (according to what Giuliani told CNN, and a joint investigation by the nonprofit Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, as published by OCCRP).
On May 13, 2019 — President Trump instructs Vice President Mike Pence to not attend President Zelenskyy’s inauguration, according to Pence’s aid Jennifer Williams’ testimony.
Late June 2019: Giuliani group joins up with Kremlin-linked Dmitry Firtash
At Giuliani’s direction, Parnas and Fruman offer Dmitry Firtash, a fugitive Ukrainian oligarch living in Vienna, help with the Justice Department in exchange for dirt on the Bidens, according to the New York Times which cited Firtash and Bondy. Firtash has been fighting extradition to the United States on federal bribery and racketeering charges related to an Indian titanium mining project.
Giuliani’s proposal is that Firtash hire Toensing and diGenova as his lawyers. The married couple were already working with Giuliani on his effort to find dirt on the Bidens.
“Mr. Parnas reasonably believed Giuliani’s directions reflected the interests and wishes of the president, given Parnas having witnessed and in several instances overheard Mr. Giuliani speaking with the president,” Bondy told the Times.
In a 2017 court filing, federal prosecutors stated that Firtash and his co-defendant in the alleged scheme, Andras Knopp, `have been identified by United States law enforcement as two upper-echelon associates of Russian organized crime.’“ Senator Roger Wicker, (R-Miss.) wrote in an April 2018 letter to then-Attorney General Sessions that Firtash had served as a “direct agent of the Kremlin.”
July 2019: Firtash hires Giuliani associates and sets to work on getting dirt on Bidens
Firtash hired Toensing and diGenova and says he has paid the couple $1.2 million as of November, including a referral fee for Parnas. The Times reports that “a person with direct knowledge of the arrangement said Mr. Parnas’s total share was $200,000.” Bloomberg reported in October that Firtash paid the couple around $1million, and that “Firtash’s associates began to use his broad network of Ukraine contacts to get damaging information on Biden.”
It’s unclear whether the activities involving Firtash intersect with Nunes. The same cast of characters who met regularly as a group — Giuliani, Fruman, Parnas, Solomon, Toensing and diGenova — were involved in the Firtash scheme, and Nunes repeatedly amplifies their work including Solomon’s articles, which Nunes read into the congressional record during the impeachment hearing.