Consider How Paul Manafort’s Fate May Have Affected Marie Yovanovitch

WaPo has published fired Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s prepared statement from her deposition today. It’s a powerful statement from a committed public servant — so go read it yourself.

But reporters have started focusing on a detail Yovanovitch included, but exclusively as it relates to yesterday’s events. When she asked Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan why she had been withdrawn with almost no notice, he told her Trump had been pressuring State to do so since Summer 2018.

Finally, after being asked by the Department in early March to extend my tour until 2020, I was then abruptly told in late April to come back to Washington from Ukraine “on the next plane.” You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly. I wanted to learn that too, and I tried to find out. I met with the Deputy Secretary of State, who informed me of the curtailment of my term. He said that the President had lost confidence in me and no longer wished me to serve as his ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the Summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause.

It is true that these events would have shortly followed the first efforts from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to cultivate Trump and his “free” lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whom Trump “hired” (for free) in April.

At almost precisely that time, in April 2018, Ukraine stopped cooperating with Mueller on the Manafort prosecution, possibly in response to the approval of an export license for Javelin missiles, one of the same things Trump used again this summer to extort Ukraine.

Nevertheless, Trump’s efforts to fire Yovanovitch took place even while — in spite of Ukraine’s halt to their cooperation — things started going south for the President’s former campaign manager.

The government first moved to revoke Manafort’s bail because he was tampering with witnesses on June 4. Amy Berman Jackson sent him to jail (first club fed, then after his lawyers got cute, Alexandria jail) on June 15. Jurors in EDVA returned a guilty verdict on August 21. And on September 14, Manafort entered into what purported to be a cooperation agreement with Mueller’s prosecutors (but what, instead, turned out to be an intelligence gathering effort on what they knew and wanted to know, intelligence he shared with Trump). Throughout that period, Trump expressed real worry that Manafort would really flip on him.

As I will show, virtually everything we know about Manafort’s purported cooperation effort connects, in some way, to this Ukraine affair. Plus, we know that Rudy Giuliani was consulting with Manafort as he pursued his schemes. And Manafort’s lawyer Kevin Downing — the same one coordinating on these issues with Rudy — represented Parnas and Fruman in their EDVA appearance yesterday.

This Ukraine story is nothing more than the continuation of the Russian story, and much of it goes through Paul Manafort. Thus, it’s not surprising that as it looked increasingly likely that Manafort would pay for his crimes, and might implicate Trump in them, Trump tried to shut down one area of pressure.

Parnas and Fruman are likely just facilitators to make that happen.

74 replies
    • Rayne says:

      Unfortunately it’s not a book, it’s a premium cable series and as long as the producers are making buckets of money, it’s not going to end. ~sigh~

        • Rayne says:

          Oh yeah. Downton Abbey lost me third season because it went from drama to melodrama in S3.

          We are deeply in melodrama terrain now, so badly written it’s crushed parody.

          • e.a.f. says:

            True, but with little else on worth watching in prime time, it will have to do. If it weren’t for the “trump shit show” I’d probably give up my cable subscription and t.v. What goes on with trump and his gang, as reported in the news and various cable stations, its really hard to believe all of this is happening in the U.S.A. Some times I don’t know which is weirder, the news or the walking dead.

  1. BobCon says:

    Is there a meaningful avenue for the House to bring in Manafort for questioning? Concerns about him as a criminal witness wouldn’t apply, and I assume he might be wary of facing charges if he lies to Congress.

    On the other hand, I don’t know if there are other potential cases out there where he might be called as a witness which might be hurt if he testifies to the House.

    Assuming he wants to keep quiet to avoid any self-incrimination on other charges, is there a value to offering immunity? I wouldn’t be surprised if the House GOP moves to block immunity to stop him from testifying, but that in itself would be a tough vote for the GOP. You’d have to assume he would be “ordered” not to testify on some bogus executive privilege claim, but that would seem to be an easy test to win in court since he was never a presidential advisor.

    I’m sure there are issues I’m missing, but it certainly seems like the potential value of having him testify to the House is growing.

    • Stephen says:

      It is difficult for me to imagine Paul Manafort testifying truthfully. His entire career seems to be founded on lies and deceit. Even his “cooperation” with the Mueller investigation proved to be mostly sham.

    • gnorrn says:

      Manafort’s only hope of getting out of jail before he dies is a pardon from Trump (and even then there are also state charges). I don’t see what possible incentive Congress could give him to testify truthfully.

  2. Matthew Harris says:

    One of the things I am both curious about, but wary of, is the attempt to compose a Grand Unified Trump Theory (or GRUNTT, as it could be called.) Because getting too far into that leads to fruitless conspiracy theories, because lots of people have had contact with other people. One of the things that Trump said when asked about Parnas and Fruman was accurate—just because he had a picture taken with them, doesn’t mean he knows them. It is really hard to see, in the parade of all the characters, who is really related and who was just a deer in the headlights. Like Jared Kushner— other than his place in the Trump Tower meeting, he seems to be absent from most of the investigations. “Seems to be” for now.

    But it also seems that this is a continuation of the Russian story. There are three questions I have about this:

    1. Were Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman going to the Ukraine to bribe or intimidate possible witnesses in the Special Counsel probe?
    1a. Did Mueller know or suspect that this was true, at the time?

    2. Were Parnas and Fruman one of the 12 redacted investigations that the OSC referred?

    3. Were Parnas and Fruman part of the Inaugural Committee investigation?

    These are just three of the factual questions I can think of, to understand whether and how this ties into the Russia/OSC investigation.

    • Stephen says:

      My guesses are worth maybe a buck apiece, but I’d give a guarded YES to #1 (maybe not specifically to bribe or intimidate, but almost certainly with a goal of convincing people there not to cooperate) and 1a (“suspect” sounds right, not “know”), a pretty confident YES to #2 (unless their shenanigans started too late to show up on Team Mueller’s radar), and I think a NO to #3 (that one’s really a stab in the dark).

      • Matthew Harris says:

        I believe a “source” reported that Barr was briefed on the investigation when he came in, in February, so they were under investigation before the report was delivered.

    • P J Evans says:

      Photos with Trmp (and Pence) aren’t actually available to everyone; you have to have connections, or have donated a lot of money, to get that close to either one, and especially both together.

    • Matthew Harris says:

      4. Was some of the recent action in the Ukraine, (such as the requests about CrowdStrike) timed to coincide with aspects of the Russian investigation still going on? Were these actions used to create doubt before the trial of Roger Stone, and the sentencing of Michael Flynn, perhaps as a prelude to a pardon?

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Toensing and DiGenova are not providing legal services to Trump, but are only voluntarily assisting Giuliani on various matters, where is their attorney-client privilege? In fact, if Rudy has it, what work and information is covered by it?

    If they don’t “work” for Trump, they have no A-C privilege with him. They might be covered under A-C privilege that covers Giuliani, if he has asked them to help him provide legal services to Trump. That’s not everything Rudy does for Trump, it’s only the legal services he provides to Trump.

    The A-C privilege is the client’s. It covers only an attorney’s legal services. It covers the attorney and anyone the attorney has engaged to assist him in providing those legal services.

    Information must be exchanged with an expectation of confidentiality and be kept confidential. If information is exchanged, for example, in front of anyone not Trump’s attorney or working for him to provide those legal services, no A-C privilege attaches.

    Trump and Rudy have long played fast and loose with claims of privilege, both A-C and executive. There are limits to both. Neither applies, for example, to helping a client commit an ongoing crime. Congress is entitled to inquire into whether and in regard to what any privilege applies.

    • Peterr says:

      I agree – between Manafort’s activities and the indictments of Parnas and Fruman yesterday, we’re getting much closer to “crime-fraud exception” territory here.

      (And don’t forget Michael Cohen when it comes to Trump and lawyers playing fast and loose.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’d like to know what “lobbying rules” prohibit Trey Gowdy from offering legal services to Trump. Those would bar him from lobbying members of Congress on Trump’s behalf, but, I don’t believe, not bar him from providing legal services.

      The explanation might be a ruse to avoid admitting to infighting between existing “members” of Trump’s legal team. But if Trump wants Gowdy only to lobby for him with members of Congress – basically, to argue against his impeachment or removal – he’s really in deep shit.

      • Rayne says:

        I’m wondering if the ‘lobbying rules’ was an escape clause designed to save face but allow Gowdy to pull the ripcord if this all became too ugly too fast.

        Would like to know why Gowdy even took this on. Too few jobs for someone with his credentials?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If it’s true that good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. one would think that, by now, Gowdy would have really good judgment. Guess not.

      • Peterr says:

        Former House members are prohibited from face-to-face lobbying of their former colleagues for one year after they leave office. For senators, it’s two years. People can hire former representatives to give advice (“Here’s who you need to talk to, and here’s what to say to them . . .”) during that one-year period, but the former representative cannot contact current representatives directly.

        Thus, Trump can bring Gowdy into the WH to help shape their responses to all the impeachment stuff, but Gowdy can’t take a meeting up the Hill, shoot off an email to an old pal, or pick up the phone to chat with them until next January.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Agree about the distinction, but it could be easily managed by a practicing lawyer. Legal and political advice and statements to the press and to anyone not a sitting member of Congress Gowdy could do now.

          If the two sides were intent on working together, they could have sorted something out. That they didn’t and arranged a delay – January is a political eon away – suggests they no longer want to work together.

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    A few other ‘tea leaves’ for consideration:

    Prelude: I’m not leaving links because I have some subscriptions and my links my contain personal ID. So please google for links/details. These sources are as legit as I can come up with while needing to race off on a Friday am – Financial Times, Bloomberg, NYT

    8 March 2006, Toshiba buys Westinghouse Electric for $5.4 bn USD
    Sept 2017, (Swedish source) Westinghouse announces will build 4 (more?) nuclear reactors in Ukraine
    2017, Westinghouse Electric declares bankruptcy (no data on accounting legitimacy or other details, sorry!)

    4 Jan 2018, Westinghouse Electric sold by Toshiba to ‘Canadian based’ (hahahaha) Brookfield Asset Moment for $4.6 bn USD [from FT: $1 bn equity, $3 bn long term debt)
    April 2018, EW reports that ‘Ukraine stops cooperating re: Manafort’
    —– EW links this to possible sale of Javelins
    3 Aug 2018, Brookfield buys 666 Fifth Ave, thereby saving Kushner’s financially

    25 July 2019 Trump’s bizarro phone call alarms US intel (NYT, FT, Bloomberg)
    30 July 2019 An item appears about ‘Middle East money trying to buy Westinghouse’
    2 Aug 2019 Tom Barrack (!) ‘tried to buy nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse … using Saudi and Emirati money’ (FT)

    More than Javelins appear to be in play.
    I leave these ‘tea leaves’ in the extremely capable, curious hands of my fellow EWheelies, and if I am too far OT, bmaz will whomp my digital ass. Honestly, this outta be worth at least part of a hubba-hubba-hubcap.

  5. Raven Eye says:

    Regarding Ambassador Yovanovitch’s statement, one phrase popped out at me: “Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy…”. Judging from the clarity of the rest of the document, I doubt that is was casually placed.

    • Valley girl says:

      I saw that on the Guardian live feed about an hour a ago. It’s addictive, kinda, that live thread. PJ you know a lot of computer thingies. Could you have a look at my question- can one link to parts of the live thread, and if so how?

    • Rayne says:

      I could see this coming and yet I figured Fox would clue that it needed actual journalists to offset their foaming-at-the-mouth pundits to retain their branding as ‘Fox News‘.

      Wonder if the last straw was something Bill Barr said or if it was the ‘Moscow Mitch’ advert by Party Marjority PAC?

      Whatever the trigger, Shep had an escort out the door.

      EDIT: Statement published about Shep’s exit —

      Seems odd his coverage of Ukraine and Crimea are spelled out in this.

      It’s this advert that might have put Shep in the tank with Fox management and/or Team Trump because his voice is the first used as voiceover and snippets of his coverage of McConnell are appear as well.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The surprise to the uninitiated is that insubordination is considered a worse crime in the corporate world than in the military one.

        The process seems designed to immediately put the departed into the category of “disgruntled former employee,” to discredit whatever it is they might say, be, or do.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Tucker is an ass, but he’s Rupert’s ass. Smith still thinks he’s a reporter and Napolitano a lawyer. That gets in the way of selling Faux Noise’s message.

          • Rayne says:

            Smith actually was a journalist, the only guy holding up ‘News’. He just had a lot of restraints beginning with Fox’s position as right-wing media. Napolitano has been kicking Trump’s ass; I don’t think we’d quibble at all with the points he’s made about Trump’s unlawful acts. Example:


            The problem is that Murdochs’ Fox relies on that 30% of the total cable news audience to sustain themselves and rake in the advertising dollars. If they sound too much like competitors they lost that sizable market niche. That’s why Carlson, Ingraham, Hannity retain their slots in spite of occasional advertiser flights.

            And the mangled tangerine shitgibbon can trash Fox’s value in a heart beat — or just a few tweets.

            EDIT: I think it’s the polling data that came out this week that caused Fox to jettison Smith. He’s the low man on the totem compared to Chris Wallace and less dangerous to remove than a columnist-contributor like Napolitano. They threw Trump a scalp.

              • BobCon says:

                From a pure greed perspective, I don’t think there is downside for Murdoch to playing along with Trump for the time being. Whether Trump wins or loses, where else do conservatives go? Sinclair can’t get its act together, and it seems increasingly clear that they can replace their supposed stars like O’Reilly and Kelly and not miss a beat.

      • Vicks says:

        Not sure if it is related but Barr was supposed to have met with R Murdoch yesterday.
        Somewhere I saw he had a non- compete, it would make sense I guess, but he would sure be fun to watch in this current climate.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s responses to concerns that Turkey “accidentally” bombed US special forces?

    “We’ll look into it.”

    From their Commander-in-Chief. Trump is pissing off all the wrong people.

    • BobCon says:

      I’m not surprised, but it’s pretty appalling to witness the silence of all of the Iraq War era conservatives as their key ally gets victimized this way.

      Having GWB, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Kyl, and the rest of that sick crew issue a joint condemnation of Trump would carry a lot of weight, but they’ve illustrated one more time how little they actually believe in all of their pieties of 2002.

      It really was nothing more than partisan divisiveness, power, and oil.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Erdogan and presumably every other world leader has Trump’s number. He’s an ignorant, lazy bully, whom another predator can manipulate.

      The artillery shelling might have been a mistake. Landing a quarter mile away could also be a warning shot to Trump: “Don’t renege on our deal or we’ll make it very messy for you.”

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump seems confused about whether Rudy Giuliani is still his attorney. He won’t say one way or the other.

    Outside of narrow circumstances, not applicable here, a client can fire his attorney at will. If Trump has to think about it, his non-answer means, “No, he’s not.”

    Probably a good thing, since Rudy seems to be the subject of a federal criminal investigation. He will soon be more worried about his own defense than about Donald Trump’s.

    • Vicks says:

      It seems like Rooty’s gig was so lucrative I can’t imagine Trump paying him, especially with Trump’s record of stiffing lawyers.
      Isn’t attorney client privilege the reason for the cheesy scenes where a dollar bill is exchanged?

      • drouse says:

        That leave the question of who exactly is paying him. The Russian businessman backing the two henchmen?(Thanks Charles!)

    • Ed Walker says:

      I saw the movie Where’s My Roy Cohn? last night with some friends. Cohn was a close associate of Trump, not just on the sex-crazed party circuit in 1980s New York City, but in business as well. Cohn got Trump out of that race-bias case early in Trumps career and claims to have been a mentor to the young sociopath.

      Cohn was disbarred for stealing from clients. Trump, along with Barbara Walters and other luminaries, acted as a character witness. After the proceding ended, Trump dropped his long time associate cold. Cohn died of AIDS a few weeks later.

      Trump will do the same thing to Rudy.

      • BobCon says:

        Cohn was Trump’s liason with the NYC mob and negotiated payoffs to smooth the way for building projects.

      • John K says:

        It always has occurred to me that Trump twists himself into a pretzel trying to suck up to Putin, under the delusion that after all the dust settles, Putin will reward his faithful lap dog with something akin to the Trump tower deal. At which time Putin will no longer need Trump’s services and will drop him the way that Trump has done to so many other people.
        Trump hopes to live happily ever after on Russia’s dime and Putin will slam the door in his face.

    • dude says:

      Not a lawyer.

      Question: if Giuliani works for free for Trump (as he said many times), then can’t Trump say things like “I don’t know if he is my lawyer” and actually mean it? Similarly, if Giuliani says tomorrow “I am not Trump’s lawyer anymore” does Trump get to say “Yes, you are and you are subject to attorney-client privilege.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:


        Generally, information learned while representing a client is permanently subject to the client’s A-C privilege.

        • dude says:

          So is the mere declaration by Giuliani that I am so-and-so’s lawyer sufficient to establish a genuine rrelationship? I mean, since it is “for free” how does anybody know there really is a professional relationship? I can see Trump denying there was any such relationship, or at least declaring “no, no—that ended 6 months ago” and how would anybody know? The privileged content of that relationship might become murky at that point. Giuliani is using Trump’s name everywhere but apparently doing nothing more than lobbying–he isn’t having to sign his name to anything as “lawyer for Trump”.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            A lawyer can normally choose whether to represent a client. Creating a relationship is not one-sided, it has to be mutual, but the client can end it at any time.

            The exchange is noteworthy because Trump believes everyone craves and benefits from association with the God Emperor. He withdraws his grace and favor as punishment, when someone is no longer useful or becomes a positive threat to him. Rudy has become a liability.

            • dude says:

              So just to be clear: Rudy can say “I am Trump’s lawyer” and so long as Trump doesn’t clearly, publicly object to this, then he assents to Rudy being hs lawyer. But, the second Trump says, “He’s not my lawyer”, the professional relationship ends. Unlike MIchael Cohen (who signed all sorts of papers and did all sorts of things which documented he was Trump’s attorney–was paid to do them in fee or salary), Rudy and Trump depend only on a public declaration to declare their professional relationship and protect their consultations. No money changes hands. No documents are signed. This is solely a verbal contract. It has legal standing. I guess that is what I can’t quite get my head around especially when it comes to the conduct of business and international relations.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Rudy and Don are performance artists. Not making their relationship clear is part of the act. Without more facts, parsing their relationship is pushing a rope.

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  I got partway through “The Method to the Madness: Donald Trump’s Ascent as Told by Those Who Were Hired, Fired, Inspired” and became convinced that his tweeting of ‘cofveve’ was most likely a mistaken, midnight spelling of the Pro Wrestling term ‘kayfabe’:
                  ‘…the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true”, specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind. The term kayfabe has evolved to also become a code word of sorts for maintaining this “reality” within the direct or indirect presence of the general public.’

                  The book makes a convincing case that Roger Stone was key at all points in Trump’s political ambitions.

                  It also explains that the election of Jesse Ventura opened up a degraded kind of faux political ‘entertainment’; a bizarro mix of pro wrestling, reality tv, and televised politics/conflict/endlessCampaign. Stone was among the first to spot it, and try to exploit it. He found Trump because he needed a showman who could excel at what might be called ‘political kayfabe’.

                  I hope to finish this book at some point, but found it exhausting to listen to the constant degradation of American life. I had to take a break from the litany of slimebots and sleazoids.

                  EOH nails it: Trump and Judi Ruliani are performance artists. They are a symptom of a crap political culture; unfortunately, they feed off the chaos and attention. As does Roger Stone.

    • Wotadog says:

      So this is a clever (?) way for Barr to pin the Ukraine scandal on Rudy and his associates just like Cohen took the blame for the hush money payments. Wonder what Barr is doing behind the scenes to protect and empower Trump…

  8. misteranderson says:

    Has anyone read the Murray Waas article in the NY Review of Books about how Lutsenko let Kilimnik escape from Ukraine in 2018? That is mind blowing.

  9. Vince says:

    Sure wish Yovanovitch’s testimony had been public. I understand it was powerful, credible, devastating testimony.

    • harpie says:

      Here’s Rep Tom Malinowski talking a little about it on AC360:
      7:30 PM – 11 Oct 2019

      I spoke to @AC360 after Ambassador Yovanovich’s testimony today. Bottom line: a bunch of crooked Ukrainians and Rudy Giuliani found common cause in getting rid of a patriotic American diplomat who was trying to fight corruption

      Links to:
      5:42 PM – 11 Oct 2019

      “Every day, he makes it harder for his defenders to defend him,” says @RepMalinowski of Trump’s claim he doesn’t know the fmr. US Amb. to Ukraine. Malinowski adds that his GOP colleagues wonder privately, “Do I want to defend this for another six years?” [link] [VIDEO]

      • harpie says:

        This is how Malinowski begins the discussion:

        She was very forthcoming. And, look, the first thing I would say is it’s really significant that she was there. What her presence says, is that it is not only necessary to obey legally binding subpoenas, but it is possible, if you are a career foreign service officer or civil servant in this government. It is possible despite the efforts of this White House to stop career employees from speaking to the Congress. So that’s an important message. She’s setting an example for everybody else. […]

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