Tuesday, January 14th, the House Intelligence Committee released new documents received from Lev Parnas. Parnas is a Ukrainian-born American citizen and an associate of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Parnas was arrested in October while trying to leave the country, and indicted on federal charges. (So weird how Trump associates keep getting arrested and indicted, right?) He’s now cooperating with investigators, and just received permission from a judge to hand over his records to the House Intelligence Committee.
In case you’ve wondered why the President—who insists he did nothing wrong; he made a perfect call; he’s a victim of a Democrat hoax—has fought every step of the way to keep witnesses from testifying and evidence from being released, well, this is why.
Once Trump and Republicans could no longer plausibly claim there was no quid-pro-quo, they shifted to explaining that the President was simply genuinely concerned with rooting out corruption in Ukraine. That’s why he wanted an investigation into Burisma and Hunter (read: Joe) Biden. For truth, justice, and the American People.
Yeah, about that. Parnas turned over this letter from Rudy Giuliani to the newly-elected president of Ukraine.
“Just to be precise,” Giuliani writes, “I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States. He goes on: “In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you…”
It’s hard to overstate how crippling this letter is to the President’s defense. Giuliani wasn’t going to Ukraine to represent the President of the United States in his noble quest for truth and justice. He was representing the President, with his knowledge and consent, as a private citizen. A private citizen circumventing the State Department and all legitimate channels of foreign policy in order to leverage the power of his office to gain the upper hand against the biggest domestic threat to his reelection: Joe Biden.
Abuse of power. Obstruction of justice. The House got it right.
But that’s not all. Parnas also turned over a few handwritten notes of his own. Here is the most damning:
“get Zalensky [sic] to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.” (Apparently random, erratic capitalization is contagious? Everyone around the President seems to succumb to it sooner or later.)
Note the specific goal here. Not to get an investigation. To get an announcement of an investigation. Odd goal, considering that investigations are usually more successful if their target isn’t tipped off right at the beginning. Odd way to go about a perfectly legitimate investigation of corruption when you have the entire State Department at your disposal.
Not an odd goal if what you really want is to drag the name “Biden” through the mud, and the people who know the law and care about their obligations to the Constitution won’t do it for you. Then it makes perfect sense.
It’s not complicated. We already had enough evidence; this just adds to the pile. The President sent his unelected, unvetted minions to use the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to make an announcement that would hurt his number one political opponent and weaken the biggest threat to his reelection. Then when he got caught, he refused to comply with Congressional subpoenas, and blocked witnesses from testifying.
Abuse of power. Obstruction of justice. He’s already been impeached for them.
But it won’t matter. Senate Republicans have seen these smoking guns. But they’ve already made clear they’re closing ranks. They don’t want to hear from witnesses; they don’t want to look at additional evidence. Multiple Senators have already publicly said they’ll vote to acquit the President, before the trial has even begun. Before they’ve taken their oath to be impartial jurors.
When Nixon broke the law, Republican members of Congress did what was right. It didn’t matter that he was the leader of their party, or that he had won his election in a massive landslide victory. Because he had broken the law and lied to Americans, and he needed to be removed from office. They made it clear that if he wouldn’t resign, they’d remove him.
Now this President, after spending three years under investigation for suspicion of inviting foreign meddling in our elections, actually sent his motley crew of criminal goons to solicit foreign meddling in our election, lied about it, obstructed Congress, blocked witnesses, and will be acquitted by the Senate. Not because he’s innocent, but because they want to remain Senators more than they want to do what’s right.
We don’t have to make it easy for them, though. Contact your Senator. Tell him or her that you want a full and fair trial. Tell them you want to see all the evidence and hear from every relevant witness. Tell them your vote is riding on it. Then follow through.