Last week I flagged this stunning and egregious story about Rudy Giuliani, the President’s private lawyer, going abroad to use to use the President’s power to enlist other governments to attack President Trump’s enemies. Giuliani has been globe-trotting like this for two years. In most cases, we don’t really know what he’s doing. In most cases he’s likely just collecting money. But in this case he’s using threat or inducement of the President’s power to target the President’s political enemies and then looping the corrupt Attorney General into the process.
This latest Trump/Giuliani gambit managed to get laundered into The New York Times via outlets like the propaganda chop shop at The Hill under John Solomon.
But here are some key new details.
Bloomberg News has now looked at the charges leveled in the Times. Basically even on its own terms it falls apart. The timeline doesn’t even hold up. The charge itself was always marginal at best. Vice President Biden was the lead in a pan-European effort to get a compromised state prosecutor out. What’s more, the current prosecutor denied the Times’ claim that he had reopened the case.
It’s important to remember here that whatever the facts of this underlying case, the most pressing issue for the US is having an emissary of the sitting President visiting foreign countries and leveraging them to target the US President’s political enemies. In the case of Ukraine, so on the ropes with Russia’s presence in the east, the favor of the US President is an almost existential matter. But there’s more.
You may have seen the news that the US Ambassador to Ukraine is being recalled early from her post. Given the fraught politics surrounding everything in the US-Russia, US-Ukraine relationships, it’s no surprise that people speculate this may be tied in some way to something other than a normal diplomatic rotation. But … well, it turns out it does.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, largely out of the mainstream media’s eye, has been the target of attacks from Giuliani, John Solomon and other members of the Trump family mafia for something like a year, both seeking to connect her to Hillary Clinton’s purported 2016 “collusion” with Ukraine but also attempts to work with the out-going Ukrainian government to damage Joe Biden in advance of the 2020 campaign.
Career diplomats and members of the national security establishment bemoan a career State Department official being brought down by this kind of Trump family mafia claptrap and agitprop. They’re absolutely right to do so. But perverting the US criminal justice system and trying to goad foreign friends into targeted the President’s domestic political enemies is a far bigger deal.
Here’s a few example from Josh Rogin’s piece in the Post which unpacks this part of the story …
On March 24, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that Yovanovitch was a “joker,” and he linked to an article in the Daily Wire headlined “Calls Grow To Remove Obama’s U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine.” That article is a roundup of conservative media figures leveling thinly sourced allegations against Yovanovitch on Fox News. Former federal prosecutor Joe diGenova said on Fox that she had “bad mouthed the President of the United States to Ukrainian officials.” Fox News’ Laura Ingraham reported that former congressmen Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to say that Yovanovitch “reportedly demonstrated clear anti-Trump bias.”
Four days before Don Jr.’s tweet, the Hill’s John Solomon published an interview with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who alleged that Yovanovitch had given him a “do not prosecute list,” ostensibly to protect Obama-Clinton allies, back in 2016. The State Department told Solomon that that allegation was “an outright fabrication.”
Lutsenko also told Solomon that he would open up an investigation into allegations that the Ukrainian government helped the Clinton campaign in 2016, perhaps by providing information on corrupt payments from the administration of then-President Viktor Yanukovych to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
We keep hearing that we need to be on guard about what Russia may do in the 2020 cycle. This is the wrong fear. The calls and the collusion are coming from inside the house. The Trump household mafia is already hitting up new foreign partners, but this time using the full power of the Presidency and all the favors it can bestow on foreign states. It’s all happening now. The dirty work is already being funneled into the pages of the country’s most prominent news paper. There’s much more to come.