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2020-01-27 12:43:591 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
Donald Trump is probably hoping more than ever right now for a quick acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, but quick is looking less and less likely. The more the GOP digs in its heels about not having witnesses in the trial and that there's no new evidence, Lev Parnas's attorney keeps dropping more and more evidence in their laps, making it harder and harder for them to ignore.
Just as the trial was gearing up to start, the attorney, Joseph A Bondy, released documents that included communications from Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani discussing that he was going to Ukraine to speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and indicating Trump had knowledge and had given his blessing.
When that information wasn't enough for the Senate to agree to allow new evidence, Bondy dropped what appears to be the smoking gun, or perhaps as close as you can get, though the existence of other evidence has been suggested.
A video was released showing Trump and Parnas posing for a picture together at a dinner in April 2018. This dinner was before the time that Trump admits to having met Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman. In the video Trump is overheard discussing Ukraine foreign policy and also directs someone to "take out" then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
A year later Trump fired Yovanovitch. Two months later he told Zelensky in a phone call that she was "bad news" and that she was "going to go through some things." She later said she felt it was a threat after she'd heard it.
After the phone call became public knowledge, it became known that Giuliani had a relationship with Parnas and Fruman. They were somehow caught up in feeding him the knowledge about 2020 Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the 2016 election. Trump then asked Zelensky to investigate the knowledge Giuliani had been given.
The two businessmen were then arrested at the airport when they were headed out of the country. They were arrested on unrelated campaign finance charges. After that, Parnas's attorney started talking and negotiating his testimony with the House, though he never did appear for a deposition. His attorney just started delivering statements from his client, as well as documents and video.
A person believed to be Parnas in the recently-released video is heard telling Trump that Yovanovitch is a risk for him. "The biggest problem — where we need to start — is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She's still left over from the Clinton administration," said the person.
Trump asked if he meant the ambassador to Ukraine, and the person replied, "Yeah, she's basically walking around telling everybody, Wait, he's gonna get impeached. Just wait.' You're going to be impeached."
Trump asked for her name, but the person did not remember it. "Get rid of her," said Trump. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it."
This was said about 40 minutes into the one-hour and 23-minute video. Bondy said he was releasing the recording "given the importance to the national interest" and to push the Senate into allowing new evidence in the impeachment trial.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an interview with Fox News over the weekend that she believed Parnas and Fruman were invited to the dinner by Giuliani.
"So, if somebody that the president trusts has somebody else with them, and he's giving you, him, information that he had already heard — and again, from the president of another country," she said, "I think that it's very reasonable that the president would listen to that, no matter if he knows him or not."
But Giuliani told CBS News on Sunday he didn't meet Parnas and Fruman until June 2018, two months after the dinner. This leads to questions of how the two men gained invitations to the dinner, as well as close enough access to talk to Trump about foreign policy.
Fruman took the video and later gave it to Parnas, according to Brody. This was also given to the House Intelligence Committee.
At another point in the recording, Trump jokes, "How's Ukraine doing? Don't ask," prompting laughter from others.
An unidentified man tells him Ukraine loves him and that "they're waiting for directions," leading Trump to ask, "You think Russia ever goes in and gets Ukraine?"
The man responds, "They would love to, but they're scared of you," adding, "They want Ukraine, Ukraine is a vast — the resources in Ukraine are tremendous, Ukraine is sore in their throat because of supplying of the pipeline because all the pipeline goes through Ukraine."
Trump asks if Ukraine has oil," and the man affirms that, leading the president to question, "How come .... they don't have any money? Why aren't the companies going in — too risky?"
The man answers, "Exactly the point — they were supporting Clintons for all these years and hoping — then when obviously you won — and Biden, yeah, that was a big thing over there."
The man explains Ukraine is just waiting for Trump's support, otherwise, if they do it on their own, Russia will stop them and cut much of their revenue. "How long will they last in a fight with Russia?" Trump asks and is told not long without the U.S.
After some talk about Syria, the man tells Trump Ukraine appreciates everything he's doing. The president asks if they feel like they're going to be okay and is told with his support they do. He asks about the leader, and this is a year before Zelensky was elected, and he's told the leader at that time, then-president Petro Poroshenko, wants the right thing for Ukraine.
"It's always us who has to support everybody," complains Trump. "You wonder why isn't it Germany who is supporting them."
Another man tells him that Germany is supporting Russia. The initial man speaking with Trump says, "A lot of the European countries are backstabbing us and dealing with Russia." After this, the talk turns to Yovanovitch.
The question everyone is wondering after hearing and/or seeing this video is if the Senate will allow new testimony. If they do, this video spells trouble.
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