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The Chucklefuckery continues! Last week, several news outlets reported that LEV PARNAS HAD FLIPPED!!!!1!! and would soon be starring as this season's Michael Cohen, a figure so utterly lacking in credibility that he could testify for fifty hours and the only person who wound up in jail was ... Michael Cohen. And while Lev Parnas may yet find himself rooming with Cohen in Otisville, it's clear that he hasn't "flipped" as much as he's flopping around like a fish in a net, trying desperately to get back in the water and swim far, far away.

After Parnas got his own lawyer, he realized that perhaps telling Congress to get fucked when you're facing multiple counts of campaign finance fraud and are smack in the middle of an impeachment investigation is probably not so smart. So, while he'll undoubtedly assert his Fifth Amendment right not to squeal on himself and may well invoke attorney-client privilege, he's no longer telling Congress to stick their stupid impeachment subpoena right up their SCIF. On second thought, he'd be only too delighted to accept their generous offer to come for a chat and bring his documents. Let's get that on the calendar!

And now his lawyer, Joseph Bondy, an experienced federal criminal practitioner, seems to be testing the water with a sample of what his client has to trade for the right offer. The New York Times has the juicy juice:


The associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump's political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said.

Which would render moot all the bullshit about NO QUID PRO QUO because the Ukrainians didn't know about Trump's ask, or didn't know the aid was withheld, or whatever bullshit Gordon Sondland was peddling about a continuum that started with "vanilla corruption" before turning to Turdcicle Corruption Chunk, the worst Ben & Jerry's flavor ever.

If Parnas is telling the truth, which is always a crapshoot, then Trump's extortion efforts go all the way back to the spring, long before the PERFECT, PERFECT phone call in July where he he spelled it out in case the Ukrainians had managed to miss four straight months of Rudy's full court press.

The meeting took place at an outdoor cafe in Kyiv last May, and was attended by Parnas, his crony Igor Fruman, and Serhiy Shefir, an aide to then President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Rudy Giuliani had just canceled his planned trip to Ukraine to lobby Zelenskiy's team, telling Fox, "I've decided I'm not going to go because I'm walking into a group of people that are enemies of the president."

Fruman, through his lawyer John "Comic Sans" Dowd, denies the shakedown took place, insisting that Giuliani's fixers just met Zelenskiy's guy for a friendly coffee klatch. Shefir says that they didn't threaten to hold up military aid -- which is not a denial that they said Pence wasn't coming if Trump didn't get his Biden dirt -- and sniffs that they wouldn't have trusted Giuliani's henchmen to speak for the president anyway. Which seems a pretty smart course for a dependent country smack in the middle of the impeachment maelstrom.

And Giuliani, showing uncharacteristic good judgment, says he "never authorized such a conversation." Which is, again, not a denial that it took place. Perhaps he also read the article in the Washington Post where Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky accused the pair of trying to extort him and offering to "use their influence in Washington to secure the attendance of top U.S. officials at the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president in exchange for $250,000." Or maybe it was the CNN piece about Parnas and Fruman pretending to have oligarch Dmitry Firtash's backing for a deal to export Qatari natural gas. Or maybe it's because he actually met these two dipshits, and knows they're not above telling a wee stretcher to get what they want.

It's like that Republican operative told CNN, "They seemed like hustlers -- but not in a bad way. In a good way." LOL!

Parnas's attorney Joseph Bondy appeared to acknowledge his client's, ahem, credibility issues, telling CNN, "It is well settled that people with imperfect backgrounds are nevertheless capable of telling important truths. Indeed these are the types of individuals our government relies on every day in securing indictments and obtaining convictions and there is no reason why Mr. Parnas's statements should not be afforded the same degree of deference." But Bondy insists that Parnas was delivering a message directly from President Trump at the express direction of his lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

"It would simply defy reason," Bondy told the Times, "for Mr. Shefir to have attended a meeting with Mr. Parnas if he did not believe Mr. Parnas spoke for the president, and also for Mr. Parnas not to have conveyed the president's message at this meeting." And indeed, Pence did not attend Zelenskiy's inauguration.

So, make of this one what you will. Adam Schiff is surely not going to impeach the president based on the word of a notorious scammer. On the other hand, Rudy Giuliani does have a habit of sending texts that say HEY, LET'S MEET AT THE CIGAR BAR FOR CRIMES? DID YOU FINISH CRIMING? OOPS, DID I BUTTDIAL MORE CRIMES? :-) CRIIIIIIIIIMES!

Watch this space.

[NYT / 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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