Bess Levin at Vanity Fair has the most articulate and insightful synopsis so far of what the House Impeachment Report says about what Donald Trump and Rudy “butt dialer” Giuliani actually achieved when they decided to play Spy v. Spy in Ukraine. Bottom line? They couldn’t have been more blatant about what they were doing short of wearing reflective clothing and blowing on kazoos. If this is their idea of clandestine, heaven save us from their notion of overt. Bill Barr is going to have to hold the DOJ upside down and shake it to come up with some distraction that can match this in intensity — and expect him to try. Levin Report:
On Tuesday, House Democrats released the Intelligence Committee’s 300-page impeachment report, which concludes, based on over two months of private and public testimony from career diplomats and other administration officials, that Donald Trump “placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States,” sought to undermine American democracy, and, in doing so, endangered national security. For a guy who has insisted that he acted with the utmost integrity when he attempted to extort Ukraine to smear his political rivals, it isn’t a good look! But Trump isn’t the only one for whom the report should be causing some gastrointestinal distress right about now; his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has also emerged from the account looking like a full-on crook, a portrayal that probably would’ve been of concern to him had his brain not started atrophying when he left the New York City mayor’s office in 2001.
Much of the damning information comes in the form of phone records. According to logs obtained by the committee from AT&T, Giuliani was in extremely frequent communication with the White House, specifically the Office of Management and Budget, where acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, of Ukraine “drug deal” fame, is still director. For instance, Giuliani spoke with unidentified individuals at OMB and the White House on April 12, 23, and 24. An OMB call on the latter date lasted over 13 minutes and occurred just one day before Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was told to return from Kiev. Following many of these communications, the Week notes, Giuliani placed calls to or received calls from his indicted associate Lev Parnas, whom Giuliani allegedly dispatched to Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son. Another call of particular interest was the 13-minute one between Giuliani and OMB on August 8, which occurred just one day after Ambassador Kurt Volker messaged Giuliani about a meeting with Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak and a “visit” the two had discussed.
Last month the Washington Post reported that a confidential White House review of Trump’s decision to put a hold on aid to Ukraine “has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal,” on which OMB led the charge. In early August, for instance, Mulvaney asking acting OMB director Russell Vought to provide an update on the legal rationale for holding up the aid and how much longer it could be delayed. According to the justification from the OMB lawyers—which the State Department and National Security Council disputed—withholding the aid was legal so long as they referred to it as a “temporary” hold. Was Giuliani strategizing with someone at OMB re: the delayed aid? Who’s to say!
Trump, as the day follows the night, is going to say, again, that Giuliani was working alone. Unfortunately for him, there is simply no way that Trump disavowing knowledge of Giuliani’s efforts on his behalf is going to work at this point, in the face of a mountain of evidence, already on record, to the contrary.
… For starters, long before the formal impeachment inquiry had been launched, Giuliani was telling anyone who would listen—including the New York Times and Hannity—that he was encouraging Ukraine to open investigations he hoped would help Trump. As New York’s Jonathan Chait notes, “If Giuliani was somehow doing all this without Trump’s permission, Trump might have said something.” Then there are the sworn testimonies of both Trump donor turned E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland and former U.S. special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, who both told lawmakers that Trump had directed them to work with Giuliani. As Sondland said in his opening statement to the House Intelligence Committee last week, he, Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry “did not want to work with Mr. Giuliani,” but did so “at the express direction of the president of the United States.”
You can’t get any clearer than that, “at the express direction of the president of the United States.” Let’s see Sean Hannity spin that one. What do you suppose, Trump said it but he was joking? He was wearing a fake nose and carrying a cigar when he said it, so we, and Rudy, of course, should have known it was just a joke? Something along those lines?
There’s no question that Rudy is well on his way to the Coffee Boy Hall of Fame. He’s been denied Fox News as a platform upon which to interview, a move which should reasonably have been made after he blew the Stormy Daniels’ payout out of the water in 2017, but it’s done now. It looks like Rudy Giuliani will be the next sacrificial lamb on Trump’s altar and if I was Mick Mulvaney or Devin Nunes, I wouldn’t be feeling too comfy right about now. They’re next in the queue. Baaaa.