Lev Parnas Wouldn’t Reveal Whether He Has Receipts on Bill Barr

I suggested in this post that Lev Parnas appears to believe that how and when he was arrested was an attempt to silence him and force him to take the fall for Trump.

With that in mind, I want to reexamine why he might believe that coming forward now might help his defense.

Obviously, one thing he is trying to do — thus far unsuccessfully — is make it clear that in his actions regarding Ukraine, he is a co-conspirator with the President, Victoria Toensing, Joe DiGenova, and, of course, Rudy Giuliani. That doesn’t mean he didn’t insert himself into that role — by all appearances he did; that’s what his existing indictment is about, how he spent big money to insinuate himself into Trump’s immediate circle.

But since that time, Rudy, Toensing, and DiGenova took actions that might be deemed an overt act of a conspiracy. So did Trump, not least on July 25, 2019, on a call with President Zelensky. Implicating powerful Americans in his influence-peddling is particularly important because, if he can’t do that, he may be exposed to further charges. WSJ reports that, late last year, Parnas’ lawyer Joseph Bondy tried to convince prosecutors that Parnas did not “push[] for the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the behest of a Ukrainian official—one of the charges in the campaign finance indictment.” If Parnas can claim that anything he did after some point in 2018 — which otherwise might be deemed to be FARA violations, suborning perjury, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, bribery, and more — he did with the approval of the President of the United States, he might be able to claim that those actions were the official foreign policy of the United States, which would basically be the same claim Trump is using to defend against impeachment.

None of that may matter, however, depending on what SDNY plans or is allowed to do.

After all, Barr had been briefed on this investigation since shortly after he was confirmed, probably indicating that SDNY deemed it a significant matter reflecting the sensitivities of an investigation into political figures including Pete Sessions, some Las Vegas politicians, Ron DeSantis, and the President’s SuperPAC. As such, Barr would receive advance notice before SDNY took steps against any of these political figures (and it would have to happen before pre-election blackouts kick in in August). The Criminal Division would need to approve any search or prosecution of an attorney, covering Rudy, Toensing, and DiGenova. Barr would have to approve any legal process targeting media figures like John Solomon or Sean Hannity, as he would have to approve their treatment as subjects of the investigation. And, just on Monday, Barr stated he will require Attorney General approval before DOJ or FBI can open a counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign (and Trump started his reelection campaign almost immediately upon inauguration).

In short, for SDNY to go after any of Parnas’ other known potential co-conspirators, aside from Fruman, Bill Barr or Criminal Division head Brian Benczkowski would have to approve.

That gives Barr veto power over including most of Parnas’ potential co-conspirators in an indictment with him. And he has made no secret that he was brought in to protect Trump from facing any legal consequences for his crimes.

For a time, it looked like Barr believed he couldn’t protect Rudy. But then Rudy loudly announced he had insurance.

“I’ve seen things written like he’s going to throw me under the bus,” Giuliani said in an interview with Fox News’ Ed Henry about the characterizations and comments made in the media about him and his relationship with the president. “When they say that, I say he isn’t, but I have insurance.”

And if Rudy’s actions are beyond legal sanction, then Parnas is left holding the bag, just like Michael Cohen appears to have been for hush payments he made on the orders of Trump. Indeed, while Parnas expressed some interest in cooperating with prosecutors, if prosecutors are barred from pursuing anyone more senior than Parnas, then there’s little for Parnas to offer.

Which brings us to Parnas’ expressed fear of Barr.

In the second installment of his Maddow interview, Parnas claimed he was doing all of this because he fears Barr — or deems Trump too powerful when he is protected by Barr.

PARNAS: The only reason – if you’ll take a look, and you know very well because you have been following, the difference between why Trump is so powerful now, and he wasn’t as powerful in ’16 and ’17 –

MADDOW: Uh-huh.

PARNAS: – he became that powerful when he got William Barr.

MADDOW: Yes.

PARNAS: People are scared. Am I scared? Yes, and because I think I`m more scared of our own Justice Department than of these criminals right now, because, you know, the scariest part is getting locked in some room and being treated as an animal when you did nothing wrong and – or when you’re not, you know, and that’s the tool they’re using.

I mean, just – because they’re trying (ph) to scare me into not talking and with God’s help, and with my lawyer next to me that I know will go bat for me no matter what, with the truth –

MADDOW: Yes.

PARNAS: – and I’m taking a chance.

That comment makes sense whether he believes Barr had him arrested to silence him or even just worries that Barr will protect everyone else. It would even make sense if — as is quite possible — Parnas is working for powerful Russians or Ukrainians who’ve been trying to control Trump by making him vulnerable.

There’s no doubt that abundant evidence can be shown that Barr is not just covering up, but actively obstructing any investigation into Trump’s actions. As I’ve noted repeatedly, Barr or one of his subordinates:

  • Scoped the assessment of the whistleblower complaint to ensure it wasn’t tied to the ongoing investigation of Parnas and Fruman in SDNY
  • Failed to share the whistleblower complaint with the FEC, which (if it were functional) could have imposed civil penalties for the illegal solicitation of campaign help
  • Had OLC invent a bullshit reason to withhold the complaint from Congress
  • Had Kerri Kupec exonerate Trump publicly, reportedly in response to a demand from Trump

Mind you, I’m the only one harping on this obstruction, but they’re still details that deserve more attention.

But that’s not how Parnas is focusing on Barr.

In his interview with Maddow, Parnas twice alleged that he had seen Barr receiving calls from Rudy and others on this stuff. First, he said that Rudy and Toensing and DiGenova had told him they were engaging Barr on this project.

MADDOW:  Did Rudy Giuliani tell you he had spoken to the attorney general specifically about Ukraine?

PARNAS:  Not only Rudy Giuliani. I mean, Victoria and Joe, they were all best friends. I mean, Barr was – Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.

He then expanded on that to say, first, that he witnessed conversations between the lawyers and Barr, and then, less convincingly, claimed that “Barr had to have known everything. I mean, it’s impossible.”

PARNAS:  I personally did not speak to him, but I was involved in lots of conversations that Joe diGenova had with him in front of me, Rudy had with him in front of me, and setting up meetings with Dmytro Firtash’s team. I was involved in that.

MADDOW:  Do you know if Rudy Giuliani was ever in contact with Mr. Barr, specifically about the fact that he was trying to get Ukraine to announce these investigations into Joe Biden?

PARNAS:  Oh, absolutely.

MADDOW:  Mr. Barr knew about it?

PARNAS:  Mr. Barr had to have known everything. I mean, it’s impossible.

MADDOW:  Did Rudy Giuliani tell you he had spoken to the attorney general specifically about Ukraine?

PARNAS:  Not only Rudy Giuliani. I mean, Victoria and Joe, they were all best friends. I mean, Barr – Barr was – Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.

Claiming “Barr had to have known everything,” while seemingly consistent with the public actions of Barr’s DOJ, is not going to be strong enough to get Barr, personally, in trouble.

Though it is worth noting that (in the same way that Devin Nunes unforgot speaking to Parnas as Parnas started rolling out receipts), CNN reported that Barr had attended a meeting where Rudy pitched the case of the Venezuelan paying for the grift long after he had to have known Rudy was under criminal investigation.

The Giuliani meeting at the Justice Department in September became public months ago in the wake of the arrest of two Giuliani associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were working on Giuliani’s Ukraine mission for the President.

Brian Benczkowski, assistant attorney general for the criminal division, issued a public statement at the time expressing regret for holding the meeting and saying he wouldn’t have met with Trump’s personal lawyer had he known about Giuliani’s role in the ongoing investigation.

But department officials didn’t mention then that Barr was also in the meeting. Barr was at the meeting for about 10 minutes and had dropped in to greet other lawyers who worked alongside Giuliani to represent the Venezuelan businessman, according to a Justice Department official. His presence is also notable because Justice officials have said he was briefed after taking office in February on the investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into Parnas and Fruman, and the connections with Giuliani.

There’s almost certain to be more, though. When Maddow asked Parnas whether he knew whether Barr ever spoke with any of the Ukrainians that Parnas was grifting (the question I’ve been asking for some time), he claimed not to recall, even though the entire point of his interview was to talk about how he had come forward out of fear of Bill Barr.

MADDOW:  Do you know if Attorney General William Barr every [sic] spoke with any Ukrainian officials?

PARNAS:  I don’t recall at this moment. I’d have to look at my text messages and see.

There is absolutely no way that Parnas did not know, when he gave this answer, whether he has proof that Barr was personally involved with the three Ukrainians who have spoken to John Durham. None.

Which likely means Parnas does have proof that, contrary to every denial DOJ has issued since they started issuing very carefully crafted denials since September 25, Barr did interact with the corrupt Ukrainians Rudy was teeing up.

Parnas kept receipts, for just the moment when his grifting on behalf of Trump and his associates can do damage. Those receipts might, conservatively, make additional charges from SDNY more difficult. They might even make a cooperation deal possible.

But it sure sounds like something even crazier. Parnas apparently believes Barr makes Trump something he hadn’t been before, protecting Trump in a way he hadn’t been. But that’s only true if Parnas can’t produce proof that Barr is part of this conspiracy.

In other words, whatever the reality, Parnas appears to be dribbling out the receipts implicating the people that SDNY prosecutors work for in an attempt to either increase the chances of cooperating out of his indictment or at least raising the costs of any further charges.

Perhaps a more interesting question is why SDNY prosecutors permitted Parnas to launch this media campaign. They didn’t have to: Parnas got permission to modify the protective order on this stuff so he could release it, and they may have had to question Robert Hyde earlier than they otherwise intended to because of the publicity surrounding Parnas’ texts with Hyde. SDNY might be doing it to encourage a criminal target to run his mouth and say something incriminating. They might have done it for counterintelligence reasons, to see who responded to this media campaign. But it’s also possible that SDNY is happy for Parnas to expand the possible scope of their own investigation by making it harder for Barr to protect Rudy and others.

The suspense, though, has to do with that non-committal answer Parnas gave about whether he has any texts directly implicating the Attorney General of the United States. A defendant being prosecuted by the Department of Justice was asked whether he had proof that the top law enforcement officer in the country was personally implicated in his corrupt influence peddling.

And Parnas is not telling. Yet.

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80 replies
    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      I mean it would be nice, but we kind of had those receipts from the moment Barr scuttled Mueller’s planned report with his 4 page letter loudly exonerating Trump and co.

  1. P J Evans says:

    I don’t know if Parnas has those particular receipts – but I’m sure that Barr is exactly that corrupt.

  2. BobCon says:

    I’m not sure I follow the connection between these two paragraphs:

    “There is absolutely no way that Parnas did not know, when he gave this answer, whether he has proof that Barr was personally involved with the three Ukrainians who have spoken to John Durham. None.”

    “Which likely means Parnas does have proof that, contrary to every denial DOJ has issued since they started issuing very carefully crafted denials since September 25, Barr did interact with the corrupt Ukrainians Rudy was teeing up.”

    The first paragraph seems certain enough — Parnas was clearly dissembling. But it’s not clear to me that it follows that Parnas has proof. Couldn’t he know that Barr was involved, but is bluffing about having proof?

    • Eureka says:

      As to the bluffing potential, I can see that happening whether Parnas _does_ have receipts — but involving someone, perhaps an occasional patron, who he doesn’t want to aggravate — or if he knows that a more powerful person has them, but wouldn’t want to waste them on the occasion of Lev’s getting caught up (so he is left to first try his luck/work the situation down with our press and Congress).

      Very fresh receipts on Barr in the right hands, shared ‘upwards’ (as someone might have done or offered here) might help explain Trump’s fast-track to destroy US Mideast policy (etc.) when he did. Trump would become even more controllable by the titled if Barr were on the table, especially while Barr keeps him buffered from US-based lower-level co-conspirators (and more “Individual 1” parchments).

      Heck, maybe _that’s_ why it was the duo of Putin & Tucker Carlson who begged Trump out of Iran.

  3. Peterr says:

    My WAG is that while Parnas knows for certain that Barr was in on this mess, he doesn’t have the direct evidence to confirm it. With that as a starting point, then, I think SDNY is willing to let Parnas talk, in an attempt to see if Barr will out himself as a participant in the conspiracy.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        People can be full of surprises. In my small, local case people from thousands of miles away sent information that they thought might be helpful. Other strangers stepped up and provided surprisingly useful information. So, even if Parnas may not have personally secured information, there is a possibility that others have shared or can share valuable data. And he may be weighing this possibility when he seems to be hesitating.

    • Rayne says:

      I’ve been snickering about this all day because it reads like a veiled threat:

      PARNAS: I don’t recall at this moment. I’d have to look at my text messages and see.

      So there’s text messages we haven’t seen yet. Got it.

      But as you suggest, is this just a ploy to get Barr to out himself — a little chum thrown in the water to see if Barr bites? What does it look like when he takes the bait?

  4. pdaly says:

    Assume Parnas has the receipts on Barr. Wouldn’t he have proffered them to the SDNY prosecutors before now, before his tv/twitter press tour?
    And if Parnas does have receipts against Barr and shows them to the DOJ, is there anyone at DoJ who has the authority to force Barr out of office?

    Receipts or bluffing, hoping that Parnas and the SDNY are on the same side wrt putting public pressure on Barr to step down.

  5. John Forde says:

    Parnas has receipts.
    Does SDNY (& thus Barr) have a subset of them?
    Do House managers have a subset of that? Or might Schiff et al have Parnas receipts that Barr does not know about or have visibility in to?

    • drouse says:

      SDNY, in theory, should have all of the receipts. Unless they think that he might have successfully concealed some juicy bits, say, as an insurance policy. Letting him gallivant around flapping his lips hoping for a hint of what and where it is.

  6. John Forde says:

    Is the “fleeing the US using one way tickets” story a Barr contrivance? I read today that last minute one way tickets paid with cash were SOP for Parnas’s & Fruman and that they had left and re-entered the country several times since the SDNY investigation into them was opened.

  7. pdaly says:

    Parnas’ stories are reminding me of the role Martha “the Mouth” Mitchell played in speaking the truth about the Watergate burglary.
    Martha got on Nixon’s nerves.
    No doubt Parnas is getting on more than just Trump’s nerves here.

    Retelling of Martha The Mouth per Drunk History:

  8. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    Barr doesn’t seem to care if he crosses ethical or procedural lines in service of 45, regardless of the damage to his reputation. He also doesn’t seem that concerned about being held to account for potentially furthering a conspiracy or obstructing justice (I’m not a lawyer! I can’t judge his exposure).

    So even if Parnas had communications with the gang tracing a path from corrupt Ukraine cutouts to team Trump to Barr’s DOJ, would that be enough to act as leverage with someone as morally bankrupt as Barr?

    Your take on Parnas’ motivations – taking offense at his prosecution while the masterminds sit high and dry – makes as much sense as any other theory I’ve heard. More even.

    Any one know what mail client was used for that screencap? Seems odd that a CC: field appears in the header without any addresses following it. Also seems to be a lot of white space between that field and Dowd’s first line. Maybe it’s normal for that client though…

    • Zirc says:

      While I agree with your assessment of Barr, his attitude suggests high confidence that Trump will, by hook or Russian crook, win in November. If Trump doesn’t win, Barr could find himself in a very uncomfortable situation. I am not big on jailing political enemies, but if the evidence of their criminality is available then . . . . There is a chance Barr could have a mug shot very similar to Mitchell’s in his future.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      Bret Stephens must have failed to make a convincing argument that Bloomberg’s cranial circumference and orbital depth indicated a genetic predisposition towards ruling the common folk

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        Err this is akward.. I meant Bloomberg because of his business friendly taxation stance relative to more liberal candidates, and “moderate” positions, plus Stephen’s bad faith caliper madness. Not because Bloomberg is Jewish. My apologies for not picking on Biden or Buttigeg instead.

      • Peterr says:

        Stephens is not on the editorial board that makes the choice. He just occupies a prime slot on the op-ed page.

        • BobCon says:

          James Bennet, editor of the Opinion pages, is on the board, though. Bennet is a big backer of Stephens and Bari Weiss, and brings that brings that wonderful “Won’t someone save us from the english professors?” flavor to the paper from his old post at The Atlantic.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      Yeah. So why didn’t they just pick one or the other ? Seems like a non-endorsement to me. Surely the policy differences are enough to swing the board to one candidate or the other.

      If you can’t make up your mind, just shut up. Their rationale was unpersuasive to me, but it gave them an opportunity to dis on everyone else in the race, EXCEPT LORD TRUMP, which may have been the real motivation. The NYT gets harder to take seriously everyday.

  9. pseudonymous in nc says:

    At very least, what Billy Barr brings to the table — which wasn’t present for Gates or Cohen or (initially) Flynn — is the belief that there’s no value in directly cooperating with prosecutors on cases involving the president and his [other] cronies. (See also: Flynn post-Barr’s appointment, courtesy of Sidney Powell.) One big difference between a rule-of-law democracy and, well, something that isn’t, is that even crooks* think that they have a chance to earn a certain amount of leniency through cooperation, especially if that lands bigger targets. If you’re disabused of that belief and assume that impunity applies for everyone higher up, then anything goes. That in turn may account for why Paulie the Rug is sitting in prison right now waiting for the phone to ring.

    * in theory; in practice, not so much, especially if you’re not a white guy.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      What Barr brings to the table is a belief in the rapture. He’s a dangerous, self-serving partisan hack. So what was he really doing over in Rome this fall?

      • rip says:

        Ahh. I initially misread your “So what has he really doing over in Rome this fall?” to be “So what was he really doing over in Rome during its Fall?”

        Maybe they are somewhat connected.

  10. Rapier says:

    “Barr had been briefed on this investigation since shortly after he was confirmed”. So why didn’t he give Rudy or somebody the word to drop these guys? Even if Barr knew nothing of Operation Slime Biden he knew these guys rubbing elbows with Trump was a problem.

    Here is CNN’s take on Barman the US Attorney of the SDNY. Now that story might by half wrong but it’s a weird one in the context of all that has happened since.

    “He was initially appointed on an interim basis by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a 120-day term. At the time, some Democrats promised to use procedural efforts to block Berman’s nomination, saying his interview with Trump for the job posed a conflict of interest.
    When the end of that term came without the White House putting forth a nominee, the judges of the federal district court in Manhattan voted to appoint Berman to remain in the job. As a result, under federal law, he can serve until the Senate confirms a Trump nominee.
    That has left the door open to discussions in Washington about a possible nominee, perhaps O’Callaghan, who oversaw Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation and is a popular figure among alumni of the New York office. Some officials believe he could even win the support of Democratic senators.
    For now, however, that effort appears inactive, and Berman and his office appear to have an assist from an important ally: Attorney General William Barr. Barr was briefed on the investigation into the Giuliani associates in February, and supported the prosecution, according to a US Justice Department official.”
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/12/politics/who-is-geoffrey-berman/index.html

    • Eureka says:

      Your question:

      “Barr had been briefed on this investigation since shortly after he was confirmed”.
      So why didn’t he give Rudy or somebody the word to drop these guys? Even if Barr knew nothing of Operation Slime Biden he knew these guys rubbing elbows with Trump was a problem.

      kind of trebly begs Barr’s theory of mind. (1) He knew he could shut it down at any time as needed; (2) He needed to let the operation run; [and so] (3) He knew of the operation.

  11. Mitch Neher says:

    Ms. Wheeler said, “If Parnas can claim that anything he did . . . [edit] . . . he did with the approval of the President of the United States, he might be able to claim that those actions were the official foreign policy of the United States, which would basically be the same claim Trump is using to defend against impeachment.”

    Can the president delegate Article II powers to a person in such a way as to facilitate the criminal conspiracy for which that same delegated agent of the president was subsequently indicted and yet the Article II power absolves that president (but only that president) of the criminal conspiracy that that president had facilitated?

    Wouldn’t that be FUBAR for sure?

    • Mitch Neher says:

      Oops! I omitted the timing issue.

      “If Parnas can claim that anything he did after some point in 2018 . . .”

      The conspiracy for which Parnas and Fruman et al. were indicted involved crimes committed no later than October of 2018, IIRC. Trump might not have facilitated those crimes.

  12. Bay State Librul says:

    Breaking….. Steve Bannon will play Bill Barr in Session 5 of Billions.
    “We will not let this Son of a Bitch”, Rhoades tells his staff “define justice for the SDNY.”
    According to sources, Waylon Jeffcoat, the Southern style twin of Jeff Sessions, will be replaced by Bannon, as the story shifts from Wall Street to downtown Kiev.
    The producers said that Elton John came in a close second.
    The first episode will air in April of 2020.

  13. John Forde says:

    “Parnas got permission to modify the protective order on this stuff so he could release it”. Was this permission sought from both SDNY and the court? Would this decision by SDNY need to be approved by Barr? Or was this decision by SDNY not required to be run by Barr? Was this release of evidence a lower level administrative decision that left a route available for SDNY to stick the shiv in their corrupt boss?

      • bmaz says:

        Well, considering that the protective order was consensual, the materials Parnas sought to disclose were his OWN material and should have never been marked “protected” by the government to start with, of course the court granted the request. Frankly, Parnas could have just disclosed them and never would have faced repercussion. The whole “Gosh we got court permission!” stuff was overly melodramatic.

        • Lenny Bruce's Truth says:

          True enough, but it’d still be interesting to know whether or not they had to run it up the chain of command, tho I’m much more interested in who’s approving Van Grack’s motions in the Flynn case.

  14. Mulder says:

    Wondering aloud. Donald President wants to make bribery legal. Would that make it all better for Dymtro Firtash?

    From the Atlantic: “The Kremlin gets closer to the Biden Plot” https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/firtash-kremlin-biden/605188/
    …In 2014, just after a revolution chased Yanukovych from power, the FBI issued an arrest warrant for Firtash. Austrian authorities detained Firtash near his Vienna mansion. The indictment alleged that he had bribed Indian officials on behalf of Boeing, which desperately wanted to acquire rare materials for the construction of its 787 Dreamliner. (McKinsey & Company, the now-vilified consulting firm, apparently vetted Boeing’s decision to work with Firtash and didn’t recommend against it, according to a New York Times investigation.)

  15. Badger Robert says:

    Thanks for the analysis. My assumption is that Lev Parnas is in a day-to-day struggle to stay alive. Not everything he says or does is rational, faced with those risks.

  16. jaango says:

    Lev Parnas is another typical dumbass!

    With his ‘media campaign’, he should have started his campaign on the Internet, and thusly, have far greater ‘credence’ for his self-defense, and within the various government entities as well as his greater circumference for his political situation and starting with his interview with Maddow.

    Take, for example, Parnas should have made all his ‘details’ available to Marcy Wheeler and followed with an exhaustive interview with Marcy, bmaz and to include Jim Walker, among others. Thus, a ‘complimentary’ or detailed info session, would have overtaken the political blogs on the Internet, and which would have raised and posed an “unassailable facts Wall” for which the Trump minions would have been unable to overcome, other than via their propaganda. And from therein, the Trump Dilemma would continue apace throughout our nation.

    Unfortunately, I could go on and on this viein of political assessment/analysis, but what’s the point?

  17. NeuroGuy says:

    Pelosi knew the Articles of Impeachment were DOA in the Senate in their current form as passed in December. Parnas had given what he had *at the time* to Schiff. SDNY had the rest. Parnas repeatedly asked a Federal Judge to get all his materials back from SDNY so he could share them with the House. Pelosi just didn’t willy nilly hold back the Articles for no reason. She knew McConnell was playing a very public game of “it’s our ballgame now”. She waited until they had Parnas’ evidence in their hands and verified its radioactivity for Trump.

    McConnell was explicit the Senate would hold a trial their way and give the President every possible quarter. What Pelosi did though, is try to make sure that quarter and protection would come at very steep price to the Senate Republicans. Let the Senate lock in the rules, have the trial underway, and then drip, drip, drip, drip of evidence. While Americans are tuned in watching the trial, more evidence comes out from the House every day. Remember, the Republicans have repeatedly stated that an Impeachment trial is “NOT like any other trial”. Therefore, the House can release whatever evidence it wants at any time even if a trial is underway (unlike a criminal trial). McConnell has only one shot to fire, and that’s the trial rules and procedures. Pelosi has 11 electronic devices and “thousands” of documents from Parnas – as well as classified supplemental testimony from Jennifer Williams.

    Pelosi is turning McConnell’s own weapons and mechanisms against him. Once the Senators are seated as jurors and the rules are locked, and more evidence keeps coming out, Republicans have four decision points where they can lose significant support. 1) Voting for outright dismissal. 2) Voting against calling more witnesses. 3) Voting to not remove Trump. 4) Voting not to bar him from office forever.

    Parnas knew SDNY had all the goods on him, so the best he could have hoped for is that what he provided to the House proved so valuable that somehow the House could grant some immunity to him so his exposure could be mitigated. Remember, the House has vast and nearly unlimited powers *when it comes to Impeachment*, hence Parnas could be just hoping some of that power could be invoked against the Executive and against SDNY.

    Parnas has to know that any lie he tells will be 100% uncovered. His evidence and statements will be analyzed by tens of thousands of people. Anything but the absolute and total truth will condemn him to possibly decades in prison. Imagine if one little white lie of his helps exonerate Trump because of the lack of credibility. Read his interview carefully. Where he is anything but 110% sure of anything, he hedges and says things like “he must have known”. What I am reminded of is a man in such a precarious position similar to Colin Farrell in “Phonebooth” where at the climax Kieffer Sutherland says “bear. your. soul.”. And Colin Farrell tells the absolute truth no matter how terrible. I believe that is Parnas right now.

    Desperation does not equal untruthful, it just means motives and conflicts of interest may be called into question. Parnas has no assurances from Pelosi or Schiff or SDNY.

    • bmaz says:

      Thanks for the narrative! We are just a simple little old country blog and never would have known. Welcome to Emptywheel.

  18. Savage Librarian says:

    Dropping the dime on volatile people, especially malignant narcissists, absolutely requires contingency plans. Those plans could involve both real and perceived risk, not only to Parnas, but to anyone associated with various plans. That could mean himself, family, friends, partners, etc.

    Parnas knows this, without a doubt. He knows what he is up against. He has always known this. That’s why he has so many receipts. But I don’t think we should assume that any entity or institution has all the receipts.

    Some may be held back for reasons we don’t know. For example, to protect someone or to provide future insurance. Or, maybe he has so many receipts that he has forgotten about some of them. That happens in the course of interacting with arrogance and entitlement. Just look how much DT has in the public domain. And look at Barr’s wacko speech.

    Parnas has receipts. Let’s hope they help us with getting a grip on the Constitution. Of all the GOP, in the end, it might be Parnas (and grandchildren) who are the most able to retain some pride and dignity in this whole mess.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      REPUBLICAN political strategist Rick Wilson is on “Forum” on KQED in San Francisco right now. He has written a book called “Running Against the Devil” which gives a chilling warning against a second term for Trump and provides a strategy to “save” the Democratic Party by encouraging a focus on winning rather than progressive ideology.

      He is one of the founders of the Lincoln Project which has organized Republicans to work against the re-election of Trump. He is speaking about the danger this has brought him from Trump supporters. He now carries a gun because of personal threats from crazed Trump supporters. His daughter was threatened with rape and death at her college when Trump supporters tracked her down.

      He spoke at length about the abject fear of Trump and Trump’s supporters in the Republican party.

      His book and speeches are a clarion call to the country of another term for Trump and the “evil crooks he surounds himself with”. He will be speaking Wednesday night at the Commonwealth Club. Both that talk and the current “Forum” program will be available in the KQED archive.

      • Rayne says:

        The Lincoln Project is how Republicans who helped create the conditions that brought us Trump launder their role in the run-up to the existential-threat-in-office.

        They still don’t see how they created this monster, they refuse to own their role. I don’t have time for people who can’t take ownership of their fuck-ups yet expect us to believe they’ve got it right now.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        My feeling about this is, HRC had 3M more voters than Trump and lost. Granted, there were a lot of mistakes made in her campaign. There will always be mistakes made in political campaigns.

        We need every conceivable vote against Trump. I don’t particularly care who is voting against him, as long as they are. If the Democrats insist on some sort of ideological purity test, Trump will win again.

        • Rayne says:

          “Mistakes were made” is also bullshit, a right-wing talking point, and a purity test from 2016. HRC wasn’t good enough in your opinion.

          How do you measure so-called mistakes when a hostile foreign entity is actively interfering in the election? How do you measure mistakes when state governments actively suppressed hundreds of thousands of voters in key states?

          The regurgitation of crap I could read on right-wing sites needs to stop if you’re not going to bring any unique critical analysis.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            I agree with you. But you do not think it was a mistake for Clinton to not spend more time in the upper mid-west ? No, there was no way to have forseen the involvement of foreign sabotage, but any campaign can look back and see where they could have done things differently.

            I saw last week that the thought is now, that the voting system in Georgia was hacked and they have not ruled out manipulation of the actual votes now.

            I am just saying that the 2020 election must be the largest Democratic tent ever. If some Republican has had the scales fall from his eyes and wants Trump out it is fine by me. If he wants to bring some of his buddies so much the better.

            To me, Trump presents such an existential crisis for our country, that I will vote for anyone who is not him, who can win.

            • P J Evans says:

              She spent time there – it’s not going to matter when the media lie and the other candidate is cheating.

            • Rayne says:

              “But you do not think it was a mistake for Clinton to not spend more time in the upper mid-west ?”

              I live in Michigan, where there was a record undervote of 80K with a win margin of only 10K. There were so many problems with voting machines in areas like Detroit that no late campaign visits could have fixed. Add Wisconsin which implemented a voter ID law that likely fucked a couple hundred thousand votes; again, no late campaign visit could fix that, it’s on non-GOP citizens in swing states for failing to ensure suppression was minimized. Hell, fault the Obama administration for failing to do enough to protect voters’ civil rights.

              There was at least one very squirrelly last minute visit by Trump which flipped from the west side to the east side on a dime — there’s no way any opponent would have been able to respond to that unless they had somebody inside the opposition. And we know data on key states like Michigan was in play, again without any way for HRC to respond.

              You want to blame her for not being omniscient? The candidate who was first to Flint, Michigan during the campaign to talk about their water crisis and continued to address Flint’s needs throughout the campaign? ~smh~

              • Molly Pitcher says:

                No, of course I do not blame her for that. I will say that this is the first I have heard of all of those issues in Michigan. I am sure that the country was so shellshocked from Trump winning, that a lot of the usual post election analysis was drowned out. I know I was reeling, so I probably missed it if this was discussed in the media.

                And I actually do blame Obama, but in only a tangential way. I think that Democrats got lazy while he was President. We did not take the potential blow back from having an African American President seriously enough and there was a decrease in the amount of vigilence for political skullduggery. We were all dealing with a crashed economy as well, I know that our family was.

                Meanwhile the lunatic Right worked themselves into a frenzy of plotting to take the power back from the Left. I know that I did not anticipate the venal levels to which the Right was willing to sink. The 2016 election was a convergence of too many unlikely, yet devastatingly bad in the aggregate events.

                I don’t want a repeat. I am prepared to hold my nose and vote for whomever can beat Trump.

                I took the interview this morning as a sign that finally some on the right had had enough, that maybe some had a tiny flicker of a moral compass and didn’t want to see another 4 years of Trump. I had never heard of Rick Wilson or the Lincoln Project and I took their existance as a sign of hope that maybe some on the right would help defeat Trump.

                I certainly didn’t expect to be accused of singing from their hymnal.

                • Eureka says:

                  Another point (which kind of circles this back to the start of the thread): because everybody knows that we’ll vote for whoever is not Trump, GOPers like Wilson and Conway and all of their respective groups are helping to drive the dem primary/ eventual candidate as far to the right as they can. So I see it not as an issue of purity tests (as above — and that’s a line/strategy they use to guilt dems out of wanting progressive goals), but of them helping to hold us hostage (to a maybe less nutty captor), so they can pick up where they left off.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            I meant to say that I thought HRC was the most qualified and prepared candidate of my lifetime. The fact that with that qualification and preparation she still lost terrifies me. I do not see a candidate of her equal running this time.

      • P J Evans says:

        If Dems wanted to be more like the GOP, they’d BE GOP. That’s what Wilson and his conservative would-be-pundit friends always miss.

    • JamesJoyce says:

      “Dropping the dime on volatile people, especially malignant narcissists, absolutely requires contingency plans. Those plans could involve both real and perceived risk, not only to Parnas, but to anyone associated with various plans. “

      You just described Albert E. This is why Albert came to America.

      Maybe we should be teaching this?

      Trump is not any different than those who called Albert’s science faith based science.

      Myopic and mentally ill.

      Dropping dimes on malignant narcissist is a costly venture if you don’t have the resources.

      Ask a patent clerk…

      Trumps MO is no different from a
      “banality of evil.”

      Malignant Narcissist usually commit suicide in bunkers or are killed in jail cells to silence them.

      Trump should move to Russia.

      If suites his business model as an absolutist corporatist all about me, me and me.

      A complete self serving T-hole..

  19. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy. Excellent post as you continue to put the puzzle pieces together.

    Parnas is co-founder of a company called Fraud Guarantee.
    Fruman owned a club called Mafia Rave.
    Names were previews to coming attractions.

  20. Pete T says:

    What has there been “crickets” from Fruman? I believe Todd Blanche is his attorney who has ties to Manafort. So, I have my hunches.

  21. orionATL says:

    emptywheel writes:

    “… And, just on Monday, Barr stated he will require Attorney General approval before DOJ or FBI can open a counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign (and Trump started his reelection campaign almost immediately upon inauguration)….”

    continuing:

    “… In short, for SDNY to go after any of Parnas’ other known potential co-conspirators, aside from Fruman, Bill Barr or Criminal Division head Brian Benczkowski would have to approve.

    That gives Barr veto power over including most of Parnas’ potential co-conspirators in an indictment with him. And he has made no secret that he was brought in to protect Trump from facing any legal consequences for his crimes…”

    just to pile on this point for emphasis, that the attorney general, almost always both a member of the president’s party and a trusted associate, apparently can, under present law, arrogate to himself the power to quash any investigation of a president, means that any president or winning presidential candidate can insure that his crimes will never be investigated so long as he holds power and his attorney general proves loyal.

    this seizure of the power by a.g. barr to block any investigation of potential criminal presidential behavior by trump, combined with the almost certain institutional timidity the fbi will display from these times forward due to president trump’s 4-year mauling of the fbi and its leaders, guarantees that criminal behavior, including agents from other countries, will be possible, indeed likely, in any future election. in particular, given the contemporary republican party’s current propensity to use any means necessary to gain or retain power and their packing of appeals courts, the united states can expect skewed elections into the future unless this arrogation of power is forbidden by law.

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