This is a bigger story than I might have thought upon initial examination. Rudy Giuliani’s all-purpose henchman, Lev Parnas, had his feelings hurt upon hearing Trump state that he did not know Parnas. Now Parnas is ready to speak to Democrats on the impeachment committee, according to the New York Times:
“We are willing to comply with the subpoena to the extent that it does not violate any appropriate privilege that Mr. Parnas may properly invoke,”
That is nice to hear, but exactly what does the man have to say? Because just “talking” isn’t quite good enough. And he might believe he can cite executive privilege, we know Rudy does. We need the truth. This is where that scorn might come handy:
“Mr. Parnas was very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him,”
“Very upset.” I doubt it is because Trump said it he did not know him. I suspect it is more about the fact that Trump didn’t immediately jump to Parnas’s defense with something like it being a “political witch hunt,” and Parnas now feeling like he’s been sold up the river.
I had written about the “prisoner’s dilemma” that Trump faces with respect to these two, and their own dilemma in what they might or might not be willing to say. Each person in the equation, including Trump, could theoretically help the other by all staying on each others’ side, by hiding the truth, and Trump defending them. And yet each might also be able to save himself individually by hacking up the others.
Parnas likely possesses information that could devastate Trump, and the Trump family. First, and most obviously, the man might well be a Russian-Ukrainian agent, or at least the next-best thing to a Russian agent. (Remember, there is an element of Ukrainians that are synonymous with “Russia,” they are Putin sympathizers, Soviet sympathizers, and corrupt families that make money off working with Putin. So being Ukraine doesn’t mean “fighting with Russia.”) Parnas somehow moves fairly large amounts of cash from … his “company” into Republican politics, illegally. That money comes from somewhere. So, he is in a position to know the entire Russian-Ukraine dynamic.
But far more importantly, the man has been at Rudy Giuliani’s side forever, and also been with Trump Jr. on many occasions and a few times with Trump himself. Who could possibly be in a better position to hear Trump’s dirty laundry and know the truth? Rudy Giuliani cannot keep from spitting incriminating evidence out on CNN! Imagine the stuff that Rudy spills on a nine hour, nine gin and tonic, flight to Kyiv. Imagine the things Don Jr. says in private company about the Trump Organization “business interests” and plans for the future.
The man is plainly a caricature of, well, the exact type of character we’d expect to be carrying out the duties he was carrying out. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t smart, observant, and dangerous, to anyone around. The stronger his ties to the old world, the more likely he is brilliant and manipulative. He might well also have a treasure trove of “proof,” all held in reserve “just in case,” like many of this type tend to have.
He is also clearly organized crime, which I guess is redundant after stating he could easily be a Russian-Ukrainian agent. But my point is that the questioning put to Mr. Parnas should come from one of the prosecutors on the committee, and not a politician, no matter how earnest. This guy needs to be dealt with carefully, by a professional, who knows how to avoid tricks and back people into corners.
It is curious that Parnas was arrested at all. No doubt the money constituted a crime. Yet, in many ways, that wouldn’t seem to be a top tier crime that one would expect to attract the SDNY prosecutor’s attention. These are primarily Florida guys. There may well be something much larger going on under the surface (hint, “Rudy,” and all he’s been up to).
This is a highly central figure, one that is easy to blow off, again because of the caricature. But the fact that he’s upset, and now wanting to talk, could be a massive opportunity … which might also explain his arrest. Is it possible that elements within this government are tired of being led by a man working against U.S. interests and have decided to fight back?
firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @MiciakZoom