As it turns out, Marie Yovanovich was even braver than she looked in front of the House Intelligence Committee. And, as it turns out, Speaker Nancy Pelosi really knows what she’s doing. At the end of the day on Tuesday, just as the Democratic presidential candidates were taking the stage in Des Moines and the president* was taking the stage in Milwaukee, the House Democrats unleashed the hounds. They dumped a whole truckload of ugly from the files of Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani’s great and good “associate” and, apparently, one of the great sleazebags of the western world.
Also released were a bunch of texts from a Trumper in Connecticut named Robert Hyde. He was in touch with Parnas, and there were text messages between the two in which Hyde seemed to indicate that, at the very least, Yovanovich was being monitored—which, I will grant you, sounds a bit grandiose coming from a landscaper from Connecticut. Nevertheless, this stuff is positively ominous. From CNN:
In a series of text messages with Giuliani associate Lev Parnas in March 2019, Hyde, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump who has donated thousands of dollars to Republican politics and the Trump campaign, discussed Yovanovitch's whereabouts in Ukraine. Using coarse language, Hyde suggested to Parnas that Yovanovitch should be removed from her position, and Hyde implied he or his allies were monitoring her...
Hyde's social media accounts are littered with photographs of him with Parnas, Trump and his close allies. In a photo posted on the website of the Connecticut Post newspaper, Hyde posed for a selfie with Trump on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, the same day Trump first called Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. In Hyde's exchanges with Parnas, Hyde indicated he had knowledge of Yovanovitch's whereabouts and level of security. "She under heavy protection outside Kiev," Hyde wrote on March 23, 2019, to which Parnas responded, "I know crazy s**t." Hyde replied, appearing to suggest that Yovanovitch was a member of the Russian security agency, "My guy thinks maybe FSB..?”
Two days later, Hyde sent Parnas a series of texts. "They are moving her tomorrow," he said. "The guys over they asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them." Hyde prodded Parnas: "Wake up Yankees man. She's talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off. She's next to the embassy. Not in the embassy. Private security. Been there since Thursday.” After Parnas responded, saying "interesting," Hyde continued: "They know she's a political puppet. They will let me know when she's on the move." Parnas replied: "Perfect.”
I’m willing, for the moment, to entertain the possibility that Hyde was just being a blowhard here. But Yovanovich previously testified that it was Giuliani’s operation that was trying to get her removed, and that she was peremptorily told to “catch the next plane home” for what was described as “security reasons.” I’m also willing to entertain the possibility that Hyde might have had more to do with the campaign to smear Yovanovich—at least—than we previously knew.
In any event, if there was any remaining credibility remaining to the White House’s defense against the charges that the president* abused the powers of his office, it was shredded elsewhere in the document dump. Lev Parnas, it seems, believes in saving receipts. From the AP (via the NYT):
Among the documents is a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy dated May 10, 2019, which was before Zelenskiy took office. In the letter, Giuliani requests a meeting with Zelenskiy "as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent." In the letter, Giuliani said he would be accompanied at the meeting by Victoria Toensing, a Washington attorney and Trump ally.
One of the documents is a handwritten note on stationery from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that says "get Zalensky to Annonce that the Biden case will be Investigated." Trump asked Zelenskiy in a July call to investigate his political rival, Democrat Joe Biden, and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden served on the board of a gas company based in Ukraine. Democrats said that Parnas' attorney confirmed that Parnas wrote the notes.
In several of the documents, Parnas communicated with Giuliani about the removal of Yovanovitch. The ambassador's ouster, ordered by Trump, was at the center of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. Yovanovitch testified in the House impeachment hearings that she was the victim of a "smear campaign.” Trump on a July 25 call had promised Zelenskiy that Yovanovitch was "going to go through some things." Roughly two months earlier, she was recalled from her diplomatic post. On April 23, just before Yovanovitch was directed to return to the United States, Giuliani texted Parnas, "He fired her again." Parnas texted back, "I pray it happens this time I'll call you tomorrow my brother.”
The text messages show that Parnas consulted Giuliani in Jan. 2019 after the U.S. denied a visa for former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Giuliani replied: "I can revive it.” The following day, Giuliani told Parnas: "It's going to work I have no 1 in it." Giuliani then predicted "he will get one" before giving Parnas the phone number for Jay Sekulow, the leader of the president's personal legal team. Sekulow is expected to be part of Trump's legal team during the impeachment trial.
Removing Yovanovich was a central part of the plan to knuckle the Ukraine government into ratfcking the 2020 election. The business about withholding the military aid came a bit later. Shokin was the corrupt prosecutor that then-Vice President Joe Biden, on behalf of practically every government and financial institution in the world, lobbied to have removed. (This, in the twisted bizarro Republican version of events, was Biden lobbying to have removed the prosecutor who threatened Hunter Biden with something-something Burisma.) That this operation existed is now beyond all question. That the president* himself was involved in it is moving beyond all question, as well. ("He fired her again.") I don’t think every hound has been unleashed yet, either.
In related news, Robert Hyde is running for Congress in Connecticut.
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