Lev Parnas And His Badass Weed Lawyer Dropping Fire Mixtapes Like POW!
The newest chucklefuck mixtape has dropped, and it is FIRE! Recorded live at an April 30, 2018, event for donors to Trump's America First Action PAC by Igor Fruman, the "Silent Bob" of the Chucklefuck Gang, this tape's got everything. There are donors proposing legislation to benefit their own businesses that was shortly thereafter championed by House Republicans. There's a whole lot of golf talk, including speculation about Kim Jong Un's mean game. But it's Donald Trump's order to fire ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that's getting the most airtime.
PARNAS: The biggest problem there, where we need to start is, we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She's still left over from the Clinton administration.
TRUMP: Who, the ambassador to Ukraine?
PARNAS: And she's basically walking around telling everybody wait, he's going to get impeached, just wait. It's incredible.
UNKNOWN: She'll be gone tomorrow.
PARNAS: What's her name?
FRUMAN: I don't remember.
(Probably White House advisor Johnny) DeSTEFANO: So one of the things that will be now that we have a secretary of state that's been confirmed--
TRUMP: Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it.
Because it's totally normal for the president of the United States to fire career civil servants based on the unsubstantiated, self-serving allegations of some dipshit at a PAC dinner, right? Particularly when that dipshit admits that he's got a financial stake in the very change he's advocating.
As Donald Trump complained about Germany buying natural gas from Russia and lied about America paying "90 percent" of all NATO dues, Parnas proposed his own solution, saying, "If we can export LNG, though, we can supply Europe, and Putin's done." Later he added, "We're in the process of purchasing an energy company in Ukraine right now that should cut off Russia." Which ... let's come back to that one in a hot second.
Here's proof that Donald Trump knew a year before he did it how dependent Ukraine was on American military backing in its war against Russia.
TRUMP: How long would they last in a fight with Russia?
GUEST: Thirty seconds.
PARNAS: Without us, not very long.
This followed a long discussion of Ukraine's vast oil and gas resources, with Lev and Igor chiming in to disabuse Don Jr. of the notion that Russia would be content with just stealing the Crimean peninsula, cutting off Ukraine's access to the Black Sea.
TRUMP: You think Russia ever goes in and gets Ukraine, or what?
PARNAS: They would love to, but they're scared of you.
BLOWHARD who is probably Don Jr.: But they got what they wanted. They wanted access to the sea.
PARNAS: Eh, not really, no. They want Ukraine. Ukraine is a vast --
BLOWHARD: The resources!
PARNAS: The resources in Ukraine are tremendous.
GUEST: It's like West Texas.
It always, always, always comes back to the oil. Which brings us to what the hell Parnas and Fruman were doing using their precious presidential facetime to slag Marie Yovanovitch all the way back in April of 2018 when they hadn't yet hooked up with Rudy Giuliani to launch a madcap campaign to take out Joe Biden using bogus affidavits from corrupt Ukrainian prosecutors.
We've been kicking around some theories for a while, but the way Parnas's attorney Joseph Bondy reacted when Rachel Maddow and Maya Wiley pressed him on this question Friday night clarified the issue. Because Bondy was hell-bent on laying that off on Igor Fruman, saying that it was Igor who got the info about Yovanovitch allegedly shit-talking Trump from his Ukrainian connections and fed them to poor, naive Lev Parnas.
BONDY: Well, here's the thing. People lobby the president all the time about thousands of things and he doesn't listen. So the notion that you say something to the president and he actually amplifies and embraces it and runs with it, I think that's a lot to swallow.
WILEY: This feels like that they're carrying somebody's water. It feels like that the information that Igor and Lev are bringing to the president has been fed to them by people within the Ukraine that wanted to get rid of the ambassador because of her focus on corruption. That's what it looks like from a distance.
MADDOW: Or because of a personal feud of some kind.
WILEY: Unwittingly, perhaps. But it certainly looks like there was someone who wanted to get rid of her. It wasn't Lev. Lev didn't know her. But somebody wanted to get rid of her. And that's the nub of this issue. Who wanted to get rid of her, and what was their motive.
MADDOW: And used Igor and Lev to convey that information to the president, which was then instantly acted on.
BONDY: Well, we don't know. And it may seem that way, but there's really no evidence to support that.
Well, actually, we do know -- or at least have enough info to make an educated guess. Because Lev and Igor were in hock for $10 million to Roman Nasirov, then the head of Ukraine's tax service, who'd fronted them the cash for their American business efforts. Which seems like a lot of coin for a humble public servant to have lying around, right? In 2017, Ukraine's special anti-corruption prosecutors office, NABU, launched an investigation to determine whether Nasirov stole €70 million in tax payments. And Yovanovitch was widely despised by Ukraine's corrupt political elite for protecting NABU and holding the Ukrainian government's feet to the fire on its endemic corruption problem. That's also why Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor general whose name keeps popping up in this story, was desperate to get Yovanovitch ousted.
Moreover, Parnas and Fruman had partnered up in 2018 with Harry Sargeant III, a GOP megadonor who owns an international shipping company. Parnas and Fruman weren't "in the process of purchasing an energy company in Ukraine right now that should cut off Russia." According to the AP, they were in the process of trying to take over the board of Ukraine's state-owned oil company Naftogaz. In March of 2018, the three of them approached Naftogaz board member Andrew Favorov at an energy conference in Texas and told him they were going to get rid of the company's CEO and put him -- that is, Favorov -- in charge.
In early March, Fruman, Parnas and Sargeant were touting a plan to replace Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev with another senior executive at the company, Andrew Favorov, according to two individuals who spoke to the AP as well as a memorandum about the meeting that was later submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, formerly known as Kiev. [...]
The three approached Favorov with the idea while the Ukrainian executive was attending an energy industry conference in Texas. Parnas and Fruman told him they had flown in from Florida on a private jet to recruit him to be their partner in a new venture to export up to 100 tanker shipments a year of U.S. liquefied gas into Ukraine, where Naftogaz is the largest distributor, according to two people briefed on the details.
Sargeant told Favorov that he regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had the president's full support, according to the two people who said Favorov recounted the discussion to them.
And because Marie Yovanovitch was a strong supporter of Naftogaz CEO Kobolyev for his dogged anti-corruption stance, they reportedly assured Favorov that they'd get her fired so their plan could move forward unimpeded. Later Bondy conceded that Parnas and Fruman "had an interest in doing a liquified natural gas deal, but this was solid American policy since the Obama administration."
But with all due respect to Mr. Bondy, there certainly is evidence to support the assertion that Parnas was gunning for Yovanovitch for his own personal reasons. And if SDNY doesn't want to make a deal with Parnas, it's a good guess it's because he's not being entirely straight with them about why he went after Marie Yovanovitch and which oligarch's money might have made him disposed to trash her to the president.
But Bondy is a terrific lawyer, and he's just doing his job. And we really can't stay mad when he spent the weekend supplying us with so many fun tweets attacking Republican senators to a catchy pop beat.
Senator Wicker, you're a man of Christ, we're calling your name, take us there!
Heaven and John Legend know you're not helpless, Senator Scott!
Are you looking at the man in the mirror, Senator Barrasso? Are you asking him to change his ways?
There are so many more where these came from. Bondy is hilarious -- or maybe it's just his paralegal. Anyway, keep 'em coming, Crazy Weed Law Man. And don't break our hearts like a certain blue-eyed, race car-driving, serially bankrupt lawyer whose name shall not be mentioned!
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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.