But enough about Ukraine, let's talk about Venezuela. Particularly about Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr and whatever hinky shit the two of them were cooking up when Rudy went down to the Justice Department last September to ask the DOJ to prettyplease not indict his Venezuelan client Alejandro Betancourt López as part of a massive money laundering case in Florida.

Betancourt had generously hosted Giuliani and his henchman Lev Parnas at his estate in Madrid where they traveled to meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's aide Andrey Yermak last August during their peregrinations across Europe in search of dirt on Joe Biden. The next month, Giuliani returned the favor by using his contacts at the Justice Department to score a face-to-face with Brian Benczkowski, head of the criminal division, to plead Betancourt's case. Which is a nice perk you get when you hire the president's personal lawyer and subsidize his backchannel ratfucking for the president!


This was already a bad look, but when Parnas and Fruman got arrested in October and news leaked that the feds were probing Giuliani for possible campaign finance and foreign lobbying crimes, the high-level meeting with Benczkowski, an obvious favor for one of Trump's pals, looked even worse. So the DOJ swung into action, with spokesman Pete Carr telling reporters, "When Mr. Benczkowski and fraud section lawyers met with Mr. Giuliani, they were not aware of any investigation of Mr. Giuliani's associates in the Southern District of New York and would not have met with him had they known."

Which might have been true, but Carr seems to have left out one rather important detail. Luckily, CNN is here to remind him.

Attorney General William Barr briefly attended a meeting at the Justice Department last fall between top criminal prosecutors and President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, a department official said Friday.

Oh, and:

His presence is also notable because Justice officials have said he was briefed after taking office in February on the investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into Parnas and Fruman, and the connections with Giuliani.

Kind of a big omission, huh?

Because, as CNN so helpfully points out, Barr was read in on the Parnas and Fruman investigation, so he knew perfectly well that Giuliani's associates were in the Department's crosshairs. Even if we take at face value DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec's statement that, "At the time the Attorney General was briefed on the Parnas investigation, he was not informed of any allegation of wrongdoing involving Rudy Giuliani," that still doesn't explain what he was doing in the room with the guy smack in the middle of the whistleblower complaint. Because Barr had already seen the whistleblower complaint in late August, so he knew damn well that Rudy was in a whole mess of shit when he walked in that office in September.

And it's pretty ballsy of the Justice Department to insist we just take their word for it that Barr was totally in the dark about the Giuliani investigation in September, when those DOJ assholes kept quiet about it for four months and only acknowledged that Barr was in the room when they got caught. (It doesn't take Nancy Drew to figure out who dropped that dime, either.)

"Barr was at the meeting for about 10 minutes and had dropped in to greet other lawyers who worked alongside Giuliani to represent the Venezuelan businessman," CNN reports. And they managed to do it without adding a "Sure, Jan" gif, too -- paging the Pulitzer committee!

As for the assertion that Barr just wandered in for a quick kibbitz, former federal prosecutors are highly skeptical.

There's also the minor matter of Rudy Giuliani and then-Congressman Pete Sessions engaging in back-channel negotiations with Venezuela's Maduro regime in 2018, a possible violation of the Logan and Foreign Agents Registration acts, as the White House was ratcheting up sanctions and contemplating direct American intervention to dislodge Maduro by force. Naturally Rudy brought along his trusty sidekick, Lev, and his banker for the Ukraine scheme, Florida shipping magnate Harry Sargeant III, who had big plans for Venezuela's oil once Maduro was out of the way. What are the odds that Bill Barr didn't know about that, either?

These guys better PRAY that Donald Trump gets re-elected. Because if he doesn't, the new attorney general is going to open up those files and all those ugly skeletons are going to come tumbling out. SO VOTE.

[CNN]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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