Sunday, January 26, 2020

Trump and donors caught talking about Ukraine and Ambassador Yovanovitch - on tape.

The betting odds are that the Senate Republicans will vote to acquit Trump. But no matter what they do, the evidence will keep rolling in on Trump’s malfeasance and that will stain the reputations of those senators by showing how they lied when signing their oath as impartial jurors. Here are excerpts from the most recent example from the NY Times. (If you already got this, sorry. I’m getting caught up after my vacation out of country.)

Tape Made Public of Trump Discussing Ukraine With Donors. The recording from a dinner in 2018 showed that the president spent an hour with two key players in the Ukraine pressure campaign. He has repeatedly said he does not know them.

For more than an hour one evening in 2018, President Trump sat around a dinner table in a private suite in his Washington hotel with a group of donors, including two men at the center of the impeachment inquiry, talking about golf, trade, politics — and removing the United States ambassador to Ukraine.

The conversation, captured on a recording made public Saturday, contradicted Mr. Trump’s repeated statements that he does not know the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who went on to work with the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to carry out a pressure campaign on Ukraine.

The recording — a video shot on Mr. Fruman’s phone during the dinner in April 2018 — largely confirmed Mr. Parnas’s account of having raised with Mr. Trump criticisms of the ambassador to Kyiv at the time, Marie L. Yovanovitch, and the president’s immediate order that Ms. Yovanovitch should be removed from the post.

“Get rid of her,” Mr. Trump can be heard responding.

The recording was made public by Mr. Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, hours after the president’s lawyers began presenting their defense in the impeachment trial and as Democrats looked for leverage to persuade Republicans to support their calls to expand the inquiry by introducing additional evidence and calling new witnesses.

For most of the recording, the camera is pointed at the ceiling but the audio is clear. Early in the recording, Mr. Trump can be seen as he enters the private room at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on April 30, 2018.

The effort to oust [former ambassador to Ukraine] Ms. Yovanovitch would later become directly linked to the broader pressure campaign on Ukraine waged by Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman. Evidence provided to House investigators showed that Mr. Parnas was in regular contact last year with Ukraine’s chief prosecutor, who also wanted Ms. Yovanovitch replaced, and seemed to be willing to trade investigations of Mr. Biden for her removal and other signs of support from the Trump administration.

By the time of the dinner with Mr. Trump, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman already saw Ms. Yovanovitch as an impediment to their efforts to get into the energy business in Ukraine.

In the full recording released on Saturday, Mr. Parnas can be heard telling Mr. Trump that he and Mr. Fruman “are in the process of purchasing an energy company in Ukraine right now.”

Mr. Parnas continued by saying that “the biggest problem is corruption there,” and later added Ms. Yovanovitch, though not by name, to a list of issues Mr. Trump should address in Ukraine.

“The biggest problem there, I think, where we, where you, need to start is we got to get rid of the ambassador,” he said. “She’s basically walking around telling everybody, ‘Wait, he’s going to get impeached, just wait.’”

The remark prompted laughter in the room.

Mr. Trump asked for the ambassador’s name. Mr. Fruman said, “I don’t remember.” Mr. Trump, sounding stern, then said: “Get rid of her. Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. O.K.? Do it.”

Those comments were directed at one of Mr. Trump’s aides who was in the room at the time, Mr. Parnas has previously said. There was some additional laughter in the room at Mr. Trump’s remarks.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman gained access to the dinner, which was organized by a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, by pledging to donate $1 million to the group.

The month after the event, they donated $325,000 to the group through a company they had recently formed to pursue energy deals called Global Energy Producers.

In the rest of the recording attendees, Trump donors, were recorded jockeying for assistance in promoting their various businesses.

And, BTW, Parnas and Fruman are the two guys who Trump claims not to know who were in cahoots with “Rudy” in his campaign to dirty presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Senate supporters of Trump, and the Republican impeachment managers, would do well to recall Rick Wilson’s assertion that “everything that Trump touches dies.”

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