The Parnas Files Raise the Import of DOJ’s Failure to Connect-the-Dots on the Whistleblower Complaint

Last night, HPSCI released some of Lev Parnas’ files that were seized as part of the investigation into Rudy Giuliani and his grifters.

The most important document, for the legal impeachment case against Donald Trump, is a letter Rudy sent to Volodymyr Zelensky stating clearly that he was contacting the Ukrainian president as Trump’s personal lawyer, not a government lawyer.

Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States.

It makes it clear that — contrary to the Republican cover story — Rudy and Zelensky both knew they were negotiating a personal benefit for Trump, not a benefit to the US.

But the most important files showing Trump’s abuse of power are texts between Parnas and a thoroughly American grifter, Robert F. Hyde, who appears to have had people on the ground in Kyiv surveilling Marie Yovanovitch in the days before she was recalled. He not only appears to have known precisely where she was, but he seemed to suggest to Parnas that he could have her assassinated for a price. “Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money,” he quipped.

Viewed in isolation, these comments are (at least) a chilling indication of the lengths to which Trump supporters will go to push his conspiracies.

But viewed in light of Trump’s comment to Zelensky about Yovanovitch — “Well, she’s going to go through some things” — it suggests a direct tie between Trump and the more sordid things that Parnas was doing.

Which makes DOJ’s remarkable failure to connect the dots on the whistleblower complaint all the more damning.

As I have laid out, by August 15, top people at DOJ knew of the complaint and knew that Trump had invoked the Attorney General in his comments to Zelensky. Perhaps ten days later, DOJ got the full complaint from the whistleblower, discussing the call itself but also the larger context. Based on a claim that there was no first hand reporting in the complaint, DOJ evaluated just the MEMCON in their review of whether or not a crime was committed, not the complaint as a whole. (Not only was the claim that the whistleblower offered no first hand information false — he was in the loop on the July 18 call and July 23 and 26 meetings about withholding aid — but the complaint included concerns about withholding funding not mentioned on the call.) They quickly publicly declared that the call did not constitute a campaign finance violation, and then did not share the complaint with the FEC (which could have imposed civil penalties) and tried to prevent Congress from obtaining the complaint.

By reviewing the MEMCON instead of the full complaint, DOJ avoided doing what would be normal connect-the-dots database searches on all the names included in it, which — because the whistleblower included multiple references to and a link to this article, would have included searches on Parnas and Igor Fruman. As this table makes clear, if DOJ had done that basic connect-the-dots work they do when assessing tips, they would have found the investigation at SDNY — which Bill Barr had been briefed on when he was confirmed as AG and Jeffrey Rosen probably knew about as well.

And had DOJ tied the call to Zelensky — with its reference to potential violence targeting Yovanovitch — it would have immediately implicated Trump far more deeply in some really corrupt shit.

As if by magic, DOJ failed to do those searches, and therefore failed to obtain official notice that the President was personally involved with a grift that SDNY was close to indicting.

93 replies
  1. klynn says:

    DOJ is “failing” under Barr’s leadership in order to protect DT.

    Amazing that is now Barr’s legacy.

    Thanks for this post. Hopefully, this post gets shared far and wide.

  2. OmAli says:

    I find pretty fascinating Hyde’s meltdown and arrest at Doral. Fearing for his life because of ‘emails that he had sent’. Was he referring to the communications with Lev about the ambassador?

  3. bmaz says:

    Lol. The Foxification of law continues. Joe Bondy is basically Sid Powell in a Men’s Wearhouse suit.

    Is this information useful? Yes. Is it complete? Not a chance in hell. Bondy is a Twitter lawyer. I would urge people to not uncritically buy off on any of this. Remember Avenatti? He was a talented trial advocate at one point. I gave him credit for that once he became a Twitter lawyer, and was wrong. He is now a criminal defendant. Beware of any attorney selling their case on Twitter. And that is where Bondy is playing. A few grains of salt should be consumed.

    • Jim White says:

      Yeah, there do seem to be huge gaps in what was released last night. I still can’t work out how Hyde supposedly was the one in touch with the surveillance of Yovanovitch in Kyiv and yet Parnas is the Ukranian with mobbish connections. Why is the landscape contractor from Connecticut running, or at least reporting on, that op when Parnas would be the obvious one to be in contact with them? Presumably, Hyde only speaks English, for starters…

      • anaphoristand says:

        I wondered about that incongruity as well, but while there’s likely an element of macho bluster to Hyde’s texts, as a USMC vet now running for office, it’d be plausible for him to have connections to on the ground security personnel.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      And let’s not forget that other Bondi…Pam. She’s now working for Brian Ballard (Trump’s FL lobbyist), and helping to coordinate the WH impeachment defense. Hmm. Once upon a time Susie Wiles worked there, too, until she was let go, about the same time she was let go as a campaign manager for DT in FL. I wonder how Susie might be nursing her wounds.

      As Mooser says, “Yes, a few grains of salt, and make sure your diet isn’t irony-deficient.” Who knows how people will react to salt in the wounds? Just look at Lev. I wonder how much irony may be busting out all over before this is over.

      • P J Evans says:

        The first one (enclosure 3) is very short, and includes text messages from Rudy to someone. The second one (enclosure 4) is 390 pages (!) of whatsapp messages involving people who are familiar names on TV, as well as stuff in yesterday’s dump, like the letter from Rudy.

  4. John Forde says:

    Does Barr have any criminal exposure for so obviously narrowing the scope? Can he claim it was his judgement that using Memcon instead of the criminal complaint was a legitimate variance from protocol? Or is his ‘narrow the scope’ act the linchpin in the pattern of evidence that includes having Kerri Kupec perform Trump’s public exoneration?

      • anaphoristand says:

        While I take your point on Barr’s solo statutory exposure, at what point does his continued abetting of Trump’s corruption at every front open him up to plausible exposure under the sort of CONFRAUDUS architecture Mueller built for his case, and a 2021 Dem AG appointed SCO might resurrect?

        • Rugger9 says:

          Barr has to be impeached for errors in judgement, but if any evidence arises that Barr directed surveillance on Yovanovitch or some clear violation of the law, at that point he can be arrested. In short, you can be a dimwit but not a crook.

          While in principle agreeing with bmaz’s point above regarding lawyers (it seems every case looks awesome when filed) these docs and text records are objective evidence that needs investigation. I would also think that if MMMcT spikes the trial next week then the House can try again on another round of impeachment hearings amid the howls of witch hunts from the GOP, but really, taking out an ambassador in this way (alleged mob hit) is something like an act of war (I would check the rules of engagement). Perhaps that was the idea, to create an impossible rift in the Ukraine-USA relationship by harming Ambassador Yovanovitch. I wonder who that benefits, maybe Vlad the attempted Tsar by another name?

          Since Parnas and Firtash are known individuals of low repute, can we say the word that rhymes with “Nico” yet?

  5. OldTulsaDude says:

    My concern is for the depth of the corruption. It is known that there are Trump supporters within the ranks of the FBI. One could only assume the same holds for the DOJ. How corrupt have these institutions allowed themselves to become ?

  6. MattyG says:

    Organizing a “hit” on an American Ambassador should put a president in jail. Period.Talk about abuse. Recall and firing is one thing but contracting local thugs to carry out a “job”… yikes – why isn’t his blowing DT off the map?.

      • MattyG says:

        I guess what I’m saying is that the abuse of trust *in this case alone* should be enough to impeach. And I’m completely invested in the Russia conspiracy allegations – But breaking the knees of your own diplomats – or worse – defies imagination. Bureaucratic re-shuffling is built into the system – old hat – but hits and goon squads against your own diplomatic corps?

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The failure to connect-the-dots seems to be on par with Bill Barr’s 4-page “summation” of the Mueller Report. He seems to be a master at hiding his personal agenda behind the bureaucratic shrubbery.

    Corrupt as hell, but who has the juice to point that out and impose consequences? One more reason why we all need to help get out the vote and put a progressive in the White House – and vote in a Democratic majority in the Senate.

    Early 1960s conservatives used to cry themselves to sleep worrying about a 24 year run of Kennedys – eight years each of JFK, Bobby, and Edward. I’m worried about one more year of Donald, let alone allowing him another term or having his corrupt and incompetent spawn follow him into the Oval Office.

    • Cathy says:

      “Early 1960s conservatives used to cry themselves to sleep worrying about a 24 year run of Kennedys […] I’m worried about one more year of Donald (@eoh)”

      All the feels.

    • Dave Karson says:

      Agreed, get out the vote on 11/03/20 for who ever is nominated. I worry to about Don Jr. in 2024. I listen to Hannity/Levin and occasionally Limbaugh and they are certainly talking up Don Jr. and mentioning 2024 as a possibility for him.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “They know she’s a political puppet,” Hyde wrote to Parnas. “They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”

    The projection in that first sentence is typically Republican. The excerpt reminds of the electronics and data revolutions over the past 25 years, and CT’s reputation as reasonably progressive, despite the oodles of cash in Greenwich and Stamford. I never thought CT would vie for a monopoly on would be politicians dumb enough to put that stuff in writing. I thought Florida, Texas, and Arizona had that covered.

  9. Tony el Tigre says:


    “The quickly publicly declared”

    Hyde was jailed for going nuts and claiming he was about to be assassinated

    What are the odds this was projection?

  10. dude says:

    Who was it who said to Amb. Yovanovitch that they wanted her to leave ASAP and feared for her safety–or words to that effect? I am wondering if whoever-it-was knew something was up with a tail on her.

  11. Mister Sterling says:

    Hyde should be arrested today. TODAY. And Giuliani’s time as a free man just got reduced by a considerable margin. We’re talking about a conspiracy to kill a sitting US ambassador.

  12. rosalind says:

    Robert Hyde is/was running for congress in Connecticut’s 5th District. I found his Q&A on Ballotpedia that is…interesting. Sample:

    “If you could be any fictional character, who would you want to be?” James Bond

    “Is there a particular representative, past or present, whom you want to model yourself after?” Jim Jordan, Ted Yoho, Dan Crenshaw

    All the pics that got posted last night of Hyde posing with various Trump Crime family members show him bouncing from Mar-a-Lago/FL and the T. DC hotel, giving thousands in campaign contributions while shorting his child support. Where’s he getting his $$$?

  13. chicago_bunny says:

    Rudy’s letter to Zelensky is dated May 10, 2019.

    Here’s what Trump said on the same day, in an afternoon interview with Politico:

    “Certainly it would be an appropriate thing” for him to ask Attorney General Barr to open an investigation on Biden. “I have not spoken to him about it. Would I speak to him about it? I haven’t thought of that.”

    Trump predicted that Biden will remain at the head of the pack of 22 Democrats running for president

    Trump says he sees Biden as the clear front-runner in the Democratic race and likens it to his own surge toward the Republican nomination in 2016. He also says he will speak with Giuliani about the former mayor’s planned trip to Ukraine and that they hadn’t discussed it “at any great length.”

    Link to the Politico article:

    Link to a large Trump/Ukraine timeline:

  14. Vicks says:

    Has anyone asked if “wake up Yankees man” is not odd slang but literally a request to wake up Giuliani (certainly a “Yankees man” and ask him what answer to give in response to “the guys” questions/comments in the 2 prior texts* with similar time stamps?
    *they are moving her. what should we do? what’s in it for us?

  15. viget says:

    I may have missed this being made explicit, but who are the 2 other lawyers with Giuliani who met with Benczkowski and the DOJ Fraud division about Firtash? I assume it was Toensing and DiGenova?

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In further Russian-related news, Vladimir Putin replaces his entire government. Putin – whose current term as president ends in 2024 – is reportedly attempting to push power back toward the legislature and away from the presidency, in anticipation of his leaving office….

    The MSM seems endlessly willing to frame events in a way that would embarrass an 8th grade civics teacher. Fortunately, the Guardian does a little push back, noting the uncertainty about whether Putin intends to step down in 2024. In a fit of journalism, it is also skeptical about how credible these moves are, or whether they are designed to make it easier for Putin to rule through cut-outs after he formally leaves the presidency.

    My response would be: Lee Kuan Yew. The brilliant Cambridge-trained lawyer served for three decades as Singapore’s official prime minister, then “retired” from office only to become, in effect, president-for-life by using easily controlled cut-outs. [Had I written that in Singapore when Lee was in power, I would be in the dock for criminal libel: Lee was known for prosecuting what in the US would be protected by the speech and debate clause.] Lee’s eldest son has been prime minister since 2004.

    The parallel with Putin is obvious: his newly-appointed prime minister is the former head of the Russian tax service – not noted for its aggressive tax compliance positions. Mikhail Mishustin is apparently a talented technocrat, but reportedly has no political ambitions. That contradicts the press suggestion that Putin is rearing his potential replacement. Donald Trump will be taking notes for the first time in his life.

    • Vicks says:

      I need to go back and refresh my memory but wasn’t there talk that if the contested areas of Ukraine ends up via a vote in these areas (which I don’t fully understand but seems to be part of the price Ukraine may be forced to pay for peace) being made part of the Russian Federation, there is worry that Putin will create the “need” for a new highest position in Russia for himself?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think he already has that. This looks more like the LKY example, planning ahead to remain in power while seemingly distancing himself from it. You never know what bullshit the press will fall for.

        That he is taking these steps four years before the end of his current term is the kind of long-term succession planning that good companies used to do. I also see it as a shot across the bows of any reformers and would be replacement dictators that they not take seriously public statements that he will ever give up power.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I hopped over here to see whether anyone else found this bizarre. Seems abrupt.

          Someone retweeted Bill Browder today.
          Browser is the man behind the Magnitsky Act, and Putin **hates** him.
          Browder is asking ‘wussup? what is Putin so scared about all of a sudden?’
          (I don’t remember the specific wording, but that’s the gist.)

          Also, in Pelosi’s announcement of Impeachment Managers, she made a point of mentioning Putin, Russia, and election meddling. Meanwhile, mysteriously, in Russia — the *entire cabinet and PM suddenly and unexpectedly resign*. WTF?!

          To reiterate Browder, “wussup?”

          And then, of course, there’s recent news of the Russians hacking Burisma. And the apparent Trumpism thuggery with respect to Yovanovitch. (My working assumption is that the GOP-Trumpists wanted the entire natural gas profits for their gang, and to achieve that goal they had to cut Biden interests out of it. To cut Biden interests out of it, they had to rollback all anti-corruption measures. Enter Yovanovich, stage left.)

          They had to sabotage Yovanovitch if they wanted to control the legalistic mechanisms to claim rights to their resource grab [Burisma].

          Hyde may be mad as a hatter, but in his mixed-up, deranged thinking, it seems possible that he understood that he was dealing with thugs, and his failure do accomplish some task may have left him terrified: wanna-be predator knew he was prey. Stranger things have happened.

          Meanwhile, I’m with EOH: something’s weird.
          If it were a ‘mere’ power grab, why now?

          Why the very week that a Canadian jet was shot down by…?
          Why the very week that The Donald is especially erratic and unhealthy?
          Why the very week that we learn of the Burisma hacking?
          Why the very week that the reprehensible McConnell is no longer capable of implementing a sham?
          Why the very week that news is coming out about a potential ‘hit’ of a US Ambassador, on the basis of her anti-corruption reputation?

          As Browder says, “wussup?”

          Also noteworthy: Zoe Lofgren is among the House Impeachment Managers. Recall that she was a leader in the Net Neutrality fight (which some of us around here tracked closely), and also represents a very tech region of CA.

  17. Terrapin says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the only men tailing Yovanovich in Kyiv were inside Robert Hyde’s head.

    • Rayne says:

      Except for the part where Trump talks like a mob boss about Yovanovitch and somebody monitoring her movements including electronic device use.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The “we have someone inside,” to confirm information language does not help, nor the real time observations – easily verifiable – that Amb. Yovanovitch met people or was not on her phone or computer. But, yea, other than that, it’s all in Hyde’s head.

      This information packet strongly suggests that whatever was going on, Secretary Rapture was a co-conspirator in it, and that it was not part of his job but rather antithetical to it.

      The entire Foreign Service, certainly the association of former ambassadors, should be vocal about this apparent and ghastly dereliction of duty. That it implicates the president in further abusive and impeachable conduct goes without saying.

      I wonder if that was part of Rapture’s decision not to seek a Senate seat in Kansas. Was 2020 not a good time for further public exposure, or did he expect to be busy compiling his defense?

  18. Mister Sterling says:

    I am very upset for using the internet to find out who the US Attorney is in Robert F. Hyde’s district. It’s John Durham. So he’s going to get away with this, as planned.

  19. PeterS says:

    A serious question: how does it work with those Fox News attorneys? You take on a client with some connection to Trump, then subsequently find that your representation of the client’s best interests conflicts with your (re)presentation of Trumpland on Fox. Can you just dump the client or must you jeopardise your TV slots?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      You start wailing and moaning that the Biden’s have to testify in the Senate trial — as if they had any role in Trump’s corruption. You muddy the waters. You muddy the waters so much that you want the viewing public to believe that whatever Trump did was all Biden’s fault.

      Then you hate, hate, hate on groups like the Lincoln Project, or anyone else who can expose you as a complete fraud. Meanwhile, you take money from your client AND from Fox, because you actually worship Mammon. Lather, rinse, repeat. You have no f*cking clue that the ends never, ever justify the means, and you never, ever figure out why they don’t.

      BTW: In upsideDownism, I saw something about MSNBC ‘in talks’ with Shep Smith. Intriguing. Maybe he valued his soul above Mammon…? We shall see.

  20. Doug C says:

    These emails make this part of the ambassador’s testimony very interesting:

    “She (Carol Perez) said that there was a lot of concern for me, that I needed to be on the next plane home to Washington. And I was like, what? What happened? And she said, I don’t know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane. And I said, physical security? I mean, is there something going on here in the Ukraine? Because sometimes Washington has intel or something else that we don’t necessarily know.”

  21. harpie says:

    1] 1:32 PM ET
    GOP Chair in Ct. announces:
    10:32 AM – 15 Jan 2020

    I have asked Rob Hyde to end his bid for Congress. His campaign is a distraction for the Democrats to raise money and falsely label all Republicans with his antics. In my view he is not helping other Republican candidates or @realDonaldTrump win. #ctpolitics

    2] 1:55 PM ET
    NBC announces:
    10:55 AM – 15 Jan 2020

    TONIGHT: Lev Parnas sitting down with @maddow for an exclusive interview, airing tonight at 9pm on @MSNBC

    3] 2:36 PM ET
    Rob Hyde announces:
    11:36 AM – 15 Jan 2020

    I have provided extensive comments on this matter which will be made publicly available at 7 PM this evening. I will have no further comment until then.

  22. Ollie says:

    Pelosi impeachment manager is calling for McConnell’s recusal from Trump Senate trial

    Rep Val Demings’ position, shared publicly by a just a few other Democrats, could undercut House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to frame impeachment as an exercise of constitutional duty. Republicans have argued for months that Democrats are on a partisan mission to remove Trump from office.

    Yet in selecting Demings on Wednesday as one of the seven impeachment managers, Pelosi is giving a national spotlight to a Democrat who has often gone against House leaders on impeachment issues — she first called for Trump’s removal from office a year before party leadership and is now agitating for McConnell’s recusal.

    Her opposition to McConnell’s participation in the Senate trial that is set to start next week stems from the Kentucky Republican boasting that he won’t be impartial in deciding whether Trump should be acquitted or convicted.

    “I’m not an impartial juror,” McConnell said at a press conference in December. “This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision.”

    • Ollie says:

      thanks to bmaz for a ‘heads up’ on the excellence of Deming so I’ve kept an eye out and am SO excited to see/read that the GOP are freaking out over her being a mgr AND she’s going after McConnell. I’m half way thru the latest doc dump. oh it’s looking good lucy.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Makes sense, due to the fact that her background is in law enforcement. Due process means…. ‘impartial’.
        McConnell is partial.
        End of discussion.

  23. Dave Karson says:

    OT: Wondering if anyone can answer this question: today the impeachment managers were named. While the usual suspects were named, Daniel Goldman was not named. I was hoping he would be too, but I am assuming now that it has to be a member of the House? Thanks for educating me. Best, Dave Karson P.S. Great Post, so much to digest! I can’t imagine what Yovanovitch is thinking right now.

  24. P J Evans says:

    Maddow’s interview of Parnas is interesting. He implicates Barr and Pence, but says Hyde was always in the bar, drinking. (His lawyer is with him.)

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