According to Lev Parnas, Trump was never interested in fighting corruption in Ukraine. The sole purpose of the extortion effort managed by Rudy Giuliani was to force President Zelensky to announce an investigation of the Bidens.
When Parnas was tasked with the job of informing an aide to Zelensky of Trump’s demand, the threat wasn’t simply to withhold a meeting at the White House and military aid. The entire relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine was on the line, including all aid and the attendance of Vice President Pence at Zelensky’s inauguration. Here is how he explained it to Maddow.
"It wasn't just military aid. It was all aid," Parnas tells @maddow. "Basically the relationships would be sour. We would stop giving them any kind of aid, unless… there were several demands at the point — the most important one was the announcement of the Biden investigation." pic.twitter.com/DYwDUofVnl
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 16, 2020
When Parnas communicated that threat, Zelensky’s aide did the equivalent of hanging up on him. That was a bold move from the incoming Ukrainian administration.
For whatever reason, Zelensky never complied with Trump’s demand for either an investigation into the Bidens or Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election—the two so-called “favors” that Trump requested during the now-infamous phone call. The Ukrainian government has, however, recently announced two investigations.
Ukrainian authorities announced a probe Thursday into possible surveillance of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch before she was dismissed from her post by the Trump administration…
The Interior Ministry statement said Ukrainian police “are not interfering in the internal political affairs of the United States.”
“However, the published messages contain facts of possible violations of Ukrainian law and of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, which protect the rights of diplomats on the territory of another state,” the statement continued.
In a separate probe, Ukraine investigators said they were looking into a suspected Russian hack into computers at Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which is at the center of the impeachment inquiries.
A week ago, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. government was investigating whether Russia was involved in a disinformation campaign targeted at Joe Biden. We don’t know whether that was spurred by the hacking of Burisma computers, but the two things might be related. Nevertheless, we’ve heard nothing directly from Attorney General William Barr about such a probe.
We also haven’t heard anything from either Barr or Pompeo—both of whom have been implicated in Giuliani’s extortion scheme—about the allegations that a U.S. ambassador was being stalked. Instead, we learned on Thursday that Ukrainian authorities are looking into the matter.
The tables have turned in some ironic ways and, at least when it comes to these matters, it is beginning to look like the United States is the country with a corruption problem, not Ukraine.