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When Mama Nancy says "all roads lead to Putin," she ain't kidding. She might have added, "and they all run straight through Ukraine on their way to Russia." Turns out Trump's big plan to take out Joe Biden was cooked up by a Ukrainian oligarch as a gift to the Trump administration, which he hoped would suddenly decide not to extradite him to face bribery charges in the US. Because the best way to beat a bribery charge is ... with another bribe which is also an illegal campaign finance contribution laundered through the Justice Department. Watergate Schmatergate!

Our story begins this summer when Dmitry Firtash, described by the Justice Department as an "upper-echelon [associate] of Russian organized crime," decided to fire Lanny Davis and replace him with disheveled Fox shills Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova. Lanny Davis, a one-time lawyer for the Clintons, was a useful conduit to Trumpland when he represented Michael Cohen. But with Cohen flipping on Trump and taking that sabbatical in Otisville, Firtash went looking for someone who could bypass all those annoying Justice Department lawyers to get his case in front of the Big Orange Cheese himself.


Firtash made billions bringing Russian natural gas into Ukraine as an ally of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. You may remember those characters as Paul Manafort's patrons, who paid him millions of dollars which he forgot to tell the IRS about. Indeed, Manafort once tried to partner with Firtash to buy a hotel in New York. And if this Biden smear seems a bit familiar, it's because it's the same scam the Party of Regions paid Manafort to run on Ukrainian politician Yuliya Tymoshenko, paying American law firm Skadden Arps to write a report saying that the Yanukovytch government prosecution of her was totally legit. Although we're sure that reports Giuliani has been in touch with Paul Manafort are entirely coincidental.

Firtash is currently charged in a federal court in Illinois with trying to bribe an American company in India. He would very much like that case to go away so he can go back to making millions importing natural gas to Ukraine, but this time from the US. Which is how he wound up in bed with Toensing and diGenova, AKA The Crackpots, and Giuliani's pals Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, AKA The Chucklefucks, who were recently indicted for campaign finance fraud. (We will save you from a 5,000-word tome by writing you a separate splainer on Firtash and The Chucklefucks this afternoon.)

On Friday, Bloomberg reported that Firtash paid The Crackpots $1 million to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden "in an effort to get Rudy Giuliani's help in the oligarch's legal case." Because if Rudy could get Trump to trade clemency from the Justice Department for lies about Joe Biden, then Firtash could go back to doing what he loves, which is parasitizing the Ukrainian natural gas market. Biden would limp through the campaign with this bullshit cloud over his head. And they could all live happily ever after!

"This will be very tough against the previous Administration," one of Firtash's lawyers told Time Magazine in June. "With the current Administration, I think they will like it." Now, we're not saying that lawyer is Victoria Toensing, who seems to have moments of, ummm, disinhibition when reporters call her out of the blue -- remember that time she called Trey Gowdy "a joke among us"? -- but we're not NOT saying it either. Perhaps it was in one of those disinhibited moments that Toensing admitted she was paying Parnas as a "translator" for her work with Firtash, but told NBC that it was "a crock" to suggest that The Chucklefucks were getting paid directly by the Ukrainian oligarch.

At Firtash's request, Ukraine's former chief prosecutor, the legendarily corrupt Viktor Shokin, swore out an affidavit saying DMITRY DID NOTHING WRONG and also BIDEN GOT ME FIRED TO PROTECT HIS SON. Both of which are highly specious. But Bloomberg reports that Shokin thought he was posing for Firtash's private collection, as it were, and "had been promised his statement wouldn't be made public." Because the first rule of Corruption Club is you don't talk about Corruption Club!

Only Rudy and The Crackpots prefer to air all their legal work in public, preferably on Fox News. So instead of quietly taking their bullshit "research" to the Justice Department so that Firtash could wriggle out of extradition and Bill Barr could pretend to have spontaneously discovered evidence of shocking misbehavior by the president's electoral opponent, Rudy started waving that affidavit all over television.

HELLO, LOOK AT THIS INFLUENCE CAMPAIGN I AM WAGING USING EVIDENCE COOKED UP BY A RUSSIAN MOBSTER he (all but) shouted, as he dumped his dossier of Firtash docs on the State Department and demanded that Shokin be granted a visa to come to the US and help him smear Joe Biden. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified to the House impeachment investigators last week that, having failed to get a visa for Shokin from State, Giuliani tried to get the White House to overrule. But no dice, so Rudy was forced to interview the Ukrainian prosecutor over Skype instead.

For their part, The Crackpots were only slightly more subtle, laundering their bullshit through The Hill's John Solomon. Only they let Rudy get wind of it, and he included Toensing and diGenova's correspondence with Solomon in his dossier, which freaked out the State Department Inspector General so much that he raced up to Congress to tell them about Rudy and The Crackpots' pressure campaign. At which point, Firtash's chances of trading the Biden dirt for leniency from the DOJ went up in smoke.

"As a result of the publicity Giuliani generated with Shokin's statement, two of the people said they believe the odds of the Justice Department dropping the case against Firtash have plummeted, because it would look like a quid pro quo," Bloomberg reported. You hate to see it!

But wait, there's more! Because Friday, the New York Times reported that, "A few weeks ago, Mr. Giuliani secured a meeting, along with some other defense lawyers, with the head of the Justice Department's criminal division and attorneys in the fraud section. They were there to discuss a foreign bribery case for a client that Mr. Giuliani described as 'very, very sensitive.'" Just like the Firtash case, this meeting involved a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Heckuva coincidence, huh? Could Rudy have been lobbying the Justice Department to go easy on poor, old Dmitry, who's been so very helpful churning up fake dirt on Joe Biden? Dunno, since all Rudy will say is it was "a perfectly appropriate meeting," and the identity of his client is "None of your business!" But we do know that it looks hinky AF for the Justice Department to be meeting with Rudy Giuliani at the same time the Southern District of New York has him under the microscope in a counterintelligence probe.

In a follow up piece Sunday, the Times let the Justice Department air its very narrow defense. They acknowledge that SDNY told Bill Barr in February about the investigation of Parnas and Fruman under a "rule that requires prosecutors to notify the attorney general of any cases that could generate national news media or congressional attention." But according to DOJ spokesman Pete Carr, "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."

UH HUH.

So Bill Barr has known for nine months that Rudy and The Chucklefucks were in the DOJ's crosshairs. And he watched Rudy flogging this conspiracy shit all over the White House and State Department, while Parnas and Fruman were flying all over Europe trying to gin up dirt on Biden -- remember that Rudy was in Madrid to meet with Andrey Yermak, assistant to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

But Barr never thought there was a problem, and Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, was blissfully unaware of Rudy's insane yammering on Fox night after night, so he saw no problem with the president's personal lawyer lobbying the DOJ for other clients. You bet!

It's a CORRUPTION SUPERNOVA!

[Bloomberg / Time / NBC / CNN / NYT / NYT, again]

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