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"Lev Parnas has no right to be talking about that meeting," Rudy Giuliani told Reuters yesterday. "It was a confidential meeting -- if it did happen." You don't even need the back story to know that this is comically, ridiculously not how law goes. If Rudy flapped his yap about confidential client matters to his chucklefuck buddy Lev, then Lev was under absolutely no legal obligation to keep quiet about it. Clearly, the person who breached his obligation of confidentiality is Rudy himself!


Okay, now for the back story. Among the many foreign actors vying to throw money at the president's free lawyer is a Venezuelan businessman named Alejandro Betancourt López. Many of Betancourt's associates have been indicted in a $1.2 billion money laundering case in Florida. Betancourt's cousin, Francisco Convit Guruceaga, who is currently a wanted fugitive, is the named defendant in the criminal complaint in the Southern District of Florida, and the Miami Herald reports that "Conspirator 2" may be Betancourt. So Betancourt would very much prefer not to wind up indicted by the US government, and he turned to Rudy Giuliani for help.

As the Washington Post reported back in November, Betancourt hosted Giuliani and Parnas in August at his Madrid estate. Parnas and Rudes took advantage of the free, luxe accommodations to get in some facetime with Ukrainian presidential aide Andrey Yermak to push their Biden smear. Thanks, Alejandro!

Once back stateside, Rudy returned the favor by hotfooting it to the Justice Department to lobby the head of the criminal division, Brian Benczkowski, not to charge Betancourt -- a meeting Benzkowski defended by saying that he didn't know then about Rudy's connection to indicted chucklefuckers Parnas and Fruman. This is the meeting that Bill Barr just happened to wander into to say hi to the other lawyers present. You know, totally normal, NBD.

But apparently, there was more to the story, if Lev Parnas is to be believed. Which, caveat, is a big if. In Lev's telling, Wilmer Guaidó, father of Venezualan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, was also enjoying Betancourt's hospitality during that August visit. The Trump administration has recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela for a year, and Reuters reports that Betancourt hoped to play up his support for Guaidó -- both ideological and financial -- in his bid for leniency from the Justice Department.

Betancourt told Giuliani he secretly helped bankroll Guaido's efforts to take over the leadership of Venezuela, according to four people familiar with the situation, two of whom provided details about the meeting in Spain. Betancourt hoped those bona fides would enable Giuliani, his lawyer, to persuade Trump's Justice Department to drop its probe of Betancourt in connection with a Florida money laundering and bribery case, the people said.

If true, this puts both Guaidó and Betancourt in an awkward position. Maduro looks to be going nowhere, and Betancourt didn't score hundreds of millions of dollars worth of government contracts by backing the opposition. At the same time, Guaidó's Popular Will party is loath to be connected to a businessman accused of participating in a scheme to launder $1.2 billion embezzled from Venezuela's government-owned oil company PDVSA into the Miami real estate market. Guaidó's father denies meeting Giuliani, and a spokesman for the opposition Popular Will party told Reuters that "information about the supposed remittance of funds by Alejandro Betancourt to our political organization is not true."

But ...

A representative of Betancourt who declined to be identified said the magnate "didn't do anything and he has not been charged with any wrongdoing." He also told Reuters that the businessman had provided "very substantial" financial support to Venezuela's opposition.

In any event, Rudy played up Betancourt's alleged financial support for the Venezuelan opposition leader in his meeting with the DOJ, and then bragged about it to his good buddy Lev. As any good lawyer would do, of course.

"It was a confidential meeting -- if it did happen." IF.

There's also the small matter of Rudy Giuliani's alleged efforts to convince Nicolás Maduro to leave the presidential palace in return for guarantees that the US would not prosecute him -- guarantees the president's personal lawyer was in no position to give. But that's a FARA violation for another day. ALLEGEDLY.

In summary and in conclusion, Rudy Giuliani is batshit. Again. The end.

[Reuters]

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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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