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Trump must be unsettled by the impeachment developments

Giuliani apparently wants to be part of Trump’s legal defense team, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll make the cut

January 15, 2020

5:25 PM

15 January 2020

5:25 PM

So Lev Parnas is now swanning about with Rachel Maddow? It seems that Maddow scored an exclusive interview with Parnas that will air this evening. She’s going to #letlevspeak, as he seeks to complete his transformation from Trump accomplice to aggrieved accuser. Is this finally the bombshell that Trump detractors have been waiting for lo these many years, the interview of interviews, the revelation that can prompt even the recalcitrant see-no-evil, hear-no-evil Republican senators to blanch?

For all its claims that the Senate impeachment trial is supposed to vindicate Trump, the administration seems to be practicing an oath of omerta at the moment. The State Department canceled two scheduled appearances on Capitol Hill today, one featuring Brian Hook, its point man on Iran. Another person who truly seems to have gone underground is the normally voluble Rudy Giuliani. The Washington Post features some choice pictures of Giuliani hanging out with the likes of Dmitry Firtash, Dmitry Torner and Parnas in a cigar bar in Paris. Giuliani clearly reveled in his incarnation as an international man of mystery but now the stench of his meetings is trailing him in ways that he probably never imagined. Giuliani apparently wants to be part of Trump’s legal defense team, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll make the cut.

If the Post piece is anything to go by, it’s not hard to see why:

The Firtash executive who met with Giuliani in Paris was an aspiring Ukrainian politician named Dmitry Torner, later accused by Ukrainian authorities of escaping incarceration in Moldova and living under a new name. The following month, Giuliani sat down in London with other Firtash representatives, according to Otto Dietrich, an attorney for Firtash. Later that summer, Firtash’s attorneys filed a court document that Giuliani touted publicly as support for his claims about Biden. In a statement, Giuliani said he did not remember meeting Torner or details of his meetings in Paris and London and had limited interest in Firtash. “I never met him. I never did business with him,” he said of Firtash. He did not respond to follow-up questions after The Post obtained photos of the Paris gathering.

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The new revelations emerging from Parnas offer further evidence that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had it right in delaying sending over the impeachment articles to the Senate. No, she didn’t cajole Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell into promising to invite witnesses to the trial. But she’s turned the trial into a trial of McConnell. The pressure to have John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney testify is only going to increase. What’s more, any new information that emerges will strengthen the hand of moderate senators who want to hold an actual, not a sham, trial of Trump. The longer the trial goes on, the more unpredictable it can become.

For Trump, who wants the trial to end before it even begins, these developments can only be unsettling. It seems likely that the trial will be taking place even as he delivers the State of the Union address on February 4. Score another one for Pelosi. Maybe she’s found the road to Parnassus.


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