House Intel committee ranking member Devin Nunes claimed over and over ad nauseam that Ukrainians were the ones meddling in the 2016 election and that then Vice President Joe Biden was corrupt. (None of that is substantiated.) Now, however, it seems that Nunes was getting his information from the former Ukraine corrupt prosecutor. This story is still unfolding.
[From Axios] The backdrop: The Daily Beast and CNN reported last week that the attorneys for Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who was indicted last month, said their client is willing to tell Congress about phone calls and meetings in Vienna in 2018 between Nunes and Shokin. Nunes said on Fox that by working with someone under indictment, the two outlets were “likely conspiring to obstruct justice.”
You can fill in the details by reading these two reports.
Exclusive: Giuliani associate willing to tell Congress Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official to get dirt on Biden. (By Vicky Ward, CNN, Updated 1:49 PM ET, Sat November 23, 2019).
On Sunday, the AZ Blue Meanie at Blog for Arizona, adds commentary to the CNN report in CNN: Lev Parnas is willing to testify against Rep. Devin Nunes.
Here’s a public post summary from Judd Legum in this morning’s popular.info email: Devin Nunes’ European Vacation.
The most prominent Republican defending Trump during the impeachment inquiry is a man who is suing a fictional cow, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Nunes has used his time in the spotlight to push “fantastical conspiracy theories” and draw attention away from Trump’s conduct. He falsely accused the Democratic chairman of the committee, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), of trying to obtain nude photos of Trump. Nunes “brought up elements of the prominent, but baseless, CrowdStrike conspiracy theory that a cybersecurity firm attempted to cover up evidence that Ukraine tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.” He also tried to reveal the identity of the whistleblower.
Nunes has always been a fiercely loyal defender of Trump. But he may have had another motivation to throw up a smokescreen: He allegedly was an integral part of the conspiracy that brought about the impeachment inquiry in the first place.
Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Guiliani, alleges that Nunes met with “former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin” in Vienna last November, CNN reports. Parnas says, “he worked to put Nunes in touch with Ukrainians who could help Nunes dig up dirt on Biden and Democrats in Ukraine.”
If what Parnas is saying is true, it could be a very big deal. Nunes was asking a foreign national for something of value (dirt on Biden) to help his preferred presidential candidate (Trump). That could violate federal law.
Parnas, however, is not necessarily reliable. He currently faces criminal charges for “illegally funneling foreign donations to U.S. political candidates.” He’s also trying to convince Democrats to grant him some form of criminal immunity in exchange for his testimony.
Nunes started with what seemed like a strong denial. Stories about Parnas’ claims by CNN and The Daily Beast were “demonstrably false and scandalous” and “the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth,” Nunes told the far-right website Breitbart. Nunes promised to sue CNN, The Daily Beast, and their sources right after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Notably, while criticizing the reporting, Nunes did not specifically deny he met with Shokin in Vienna. According to Congressional records, Nunes did make a taxpayer-funded trip to Europe with three of his aides at the time in question.
Congressman Jim Hines (D-CT), who is on the House Intelligence Committee, explained on CBS’ Face the Nation how the use of taxpayer funds creates additional problems for Nunes:
Look, I don’t know what happened on that trip, but the allegation is that Devin Nunes used federal funds to fly himself and a couple of staffers over there in the search of dirt on Biden. That’s actually what the president is accused of doing – misusing public dollars for a political purpose.
On Sunday, Nunes appeared on Fox News and was asked point-blank whether he met with Shokin in Vienna: “Bottom line, were you in Vienna with Shokin?”
He refused to answer.
I really want to answer all of these questions and I promise you I absolutely will come back on the show and answer these questions. But because there is criminal activity here, we’re working with the appropriate law enforcement agencies, we are going to file all this – everyone’s going to know the truth, everybody is going to know all the facts but I think you can understand that I can’t compete by trying to debate this out with the public media when 90 percent of the media are totally corrupt. And because this is criminal in nature and because it is so bad, so slanderous, we’ve got all the facts on our side and we are going to file in federal court because I’m not going to sit here and try to compete against the media that I have no chance of winning this.
Nunes’ dodge doesn’t make much sense. If the meeting never happened, Nunes could say that and offer proof.
A high-ranking House Democrat said Saturday it’s “quite likely” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will face an ethics investigation over allegations that he met with an ex-Ukrainian official to obtain information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son.
Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, appeared on MSNBC where he was asked whether Nunes could face a House inquiry. “Quite likely, without question,” Smith said.
The allegation that Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, met with a former Ukrainian prosecutor last year to discuss the Bidens came from the attorney for Lev Parnas, one of two Soviet-born associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani who were indicted on charges they broke campaign finance law.
Parnas’s attorney, Joseph Bondy, told The Washington Post that Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018.
House Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) claimed on Fox News‘ “Sunday Morning Futures” that he is taking CNN and the Daily Beast “likely into federal court” for their reporting on allegations that he met with former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden.
It’s unclear what Nunes would sue the publications for. If he sues for defamation, he would have to prove as a public official that the outlets acted with actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth.
However, both publications reported on statements that Parnas’ attorneys released and neither issued any claims regarding the truth of the statements.
What he’s saying: Nunes said the reports are false but would not answer a direct question from Fox’s Maria Bartiromo about whether he met with Shokin in 2018.
“I really want to answer all of these questions, and I promise you I absolutely will come back on the show and answer these questions. But because there is criminal activity here, we’re working with the appropriate law enforcement agencies, we are going to file all this,” Nunes said.
“Everyone’s going to know the truth, everybody is going to know all the facts, but I think you can understand that I can’t compete by trying to debate this out with the public media when 90% of the media are totally corrupt,” he continued.
“And because this is criminal in nature and because it is so bad, so slanderous, we’ve got all the facts on our side and we are going to file in federal court because I’m not going to sit here and try to compete against the media that I have no chance of winning this.”
Nunes also told Breitbart last week that the “scandalous stories published by the Daily Beast and CNN are the perfect example of defamation and reckless disregard for the truth.”
All that’s out of the Trump playbook. Remember that Trump is notorious for suing those critical of his behaviors - and losing the suits. For example, he sued Tim O’Brien and lost: A journalist who was sued by Trump describes Trump’s hilarious incompetence under oath.
In 2006, Trump sued Timothy L. O’Brien, whose TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, an unauthorized biography, claimed that Trump had overstated his wealth. Trump lost the lawsuit, in part because of his dismal performance during a two-day deposition by O’Brien’s lawyers.
O’Brien describes Trump’s hilarious state of unpreparedness and his inability to answer straight questions, and speculates on how Trump might perform when facing [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller, a legendarily sharp investigator: “Trump would have been well served to acknowledge that others in his organization – like his chief financial officer – had independently decided to gather and report certain problematic financial information. But Trump couldn’t resist saying that his minions at the Trump Organization and elsewhere were just following his orders, a boast that also raised the legal stakes for himself (even if he didn’t realize that’s what he was doing).”
Trump is impatient and has never been an avid or dedicated reader. That’s OK if you’d rather play golf, but it’s not OK when you need to absorb abundant or complex details. Lawyers typically prepare binders full of documents for their clients to pore over prior to a deposition, hoping to steel them for an intense grilling. My lawyers did that prior to my own deposition in the Trump lawsuit. But Trump didn’t appear to be well prepared when we deposed him, a weakness that my lawyers exploited …
Trump, for example, had submitted a document to the court from his accountant outlining his assets and liabilities. He was proud of the document’s glowing conclusions but hadn’t seemed to have read most of it prior to sitting down with my lawyers – including a section that said that the report wasn’t a reliable gauge of his wealth. Trump seemed surprised when my lawyers pointed that out.
Judging from Nunes’ performance during the impeachment inquiry hearings, he’s no more likely than Trump to win a law suit.