Under the Radar, Ukraine is Complying With Trump's Quid-Pro-Quo

October 11, 2019

The indicted Giuliani partners in crime, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, photographed with Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence. (Facebook)

The indicted Giuliani partners in crime, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, photographed with Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence. (Facebook)


Although the impeachment of Trump by Congress may appear to be getting closer with the arrest on Thursday of two of Giuliani’s Ukraine-Gate partners in crime for financial improprieties — they were also apparently trying to fabricate dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter and are implicated in the firing of the former US Ambassdor to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch — there is another process taking place that is aimed at offering an official Trump counter-narrative to the whistleblower’s Ukraine allegations. Under the radar, Trump’s mob-like intimidation of Ukraine President Zelensky, making him “an offer he could not refuse,” is actually paying off.

On Thursday, The Hill reported that “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his government would ‘happily’ open an investigation into potential interference from Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election.” This was one of the requests Trump made in his infamous July 25 phone conversation with Zelensky. The investigation Zelensky is referring to is a disproved conspiracy theory, known as CrowdStrike that Trump is obsessed. Trump asserts that Ukrainians hacked into DNC servers in the 2016 election, and not Russia, who Trump wants to absolve of blame, despite all evidence to the contrary.

What’s important here is that it is unlikely that Zelensky would proceed with an “investigation” if he were not going to deliver an official confirmation of Trump’s feverish desire to clear Russia of meddling in the 2016 election to help him win. In fact, Zelensky confirmed Trump’s mendacious assertion that the phone call was “routine” (and remember the full transcript, on a classified server, has still not been released) according to The Hill:

Addressing the matter Thursday, Zelensky said there was "no blackmail" during the leaders' phone conversation. He also said that no mention of money related to military aid came up during the call. 

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing, describing his phone call with Zelensky as "perfect." He's also derided the impeachment inquiry as a "coup" set on undoing the results of the 2016 election. 

It should be clear that Zelensky is casting his lot with Trump due to his control over aid to Ukraine and Zelensky’s reliance on a pro-Putin Trump to keep the Russians at bay. Even if Zelensky only partially comes up with some convoluted finding that partially confirms Trump’s conspiracy theory, it would give an “official” imprimatur that Trump can seize upon as vindication.

More troubling is an October 4 NPR report headlined, “Ukraine Conducts Probe Sought By Trump Regarding Hunter Biden's Former Employer”:

At a news conference in Kiev on Friday, Ukraine's newly appointed top prosecutor announced a sweeping review of past corruption investigations that had been either shut down or split up. Fifteen of those cases, according to an official press release, involve the founder of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter was appointed to Burisma's board in 2014, while his father was leading policy on Ukraine during the Obama administration.

The audit of earlier corruption probes follows a promise Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made to President Trump in a July 25 phone conversation: that a new prosecutor general would look into the closing of an investigation into Burisma's practices.

The prosecutor general, Ruslan Ryaboshapka, did concede that he wasn’t currently aware of any illegalities involving Hunter Biden. However, it would again be questionable as to why Zelensky would accede to a request to reopen the investigations of the former prosecutor if in the end the findings would not please Trump. Because in that case, Trump would likely withhold military aid to Ukraine and take retaliatory measures, and allow Putin to further encroach on Ukrainian territory.

Trump is a master of taking a scintilla of an official finding and repeatedly marketing it as confirmation of his allegations. Furthermore, the obsequious DC press corps generally takes the lead from Trump and amplifies his assertions of false findings as equivalencies to charges against Trump rather than reporting on what is true.

Just look at how the press, including much of the progressive press, is saying Trump’s charges against Biden do point to nepotism that should not be tolerated, but fail to confront Trump on gross nepotism and egregious and unrelenting corruption and profiteering at the taxpayer’s expense. This is the same lopsided standard that the press applied to Hillary Clinton in 2016, including The New York Times writing articles that bestowed credibility to right-wing conspiracy theories about Clinton. Whether you support Biden or like Clinton is beside the point. The press holds them to a standard that they cravenly don’t apply to Trump.

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The important point here is to remember that despite impeachment fervor, Trump’s thuggish behavior toward Ukraine is yielding results that will emerge in the near future, and that Trump will use as an “official” counterpoint to the impeachment narrative about Ukraine. It’s happening in plain sight.

In an article in The Guardian, Rebecca Solnit notes:

Another unsurprising detail emerged in a recent New York Times story: “In Ukraine, where officials are wary of offending President Trump, four meandering cases that involve Mr Manafort, Mr Trump’s former campaign chairman, have been effectively frozen by Ukraine’s chief prosecutor. The cases are just too sensitive for a government deeply reliant on United States financial and military aid, and keenly aware of Mr Trump’s distaste for” special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “into possible collusion between Russia and his campaign.”

Let the impeachment inquiry proceed in DC, but do not for a moment overlook that Trump is expecting his mafia-like pressure on Ukraine to bare fruit, providing him with a narrative he knows how to push, just as he successfully gaslighted the press and the nation into believing that the Mueller report absolved his campaign of collusion with the Russians.

Meanwhile, Trump is also counting on the unprecedented use of William Barr, supposedly our attorney general and Trump’s second consigliere, to go on a world tour, with a US attorney, to try and prove that the “deep state” (FBI and CIA) cooked up the proven fact that Russia meddled in the 2016 election in a variety of ways. Partially, they are in search of an elusive Maltese professor who was a source for the allegation that the Russians had emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.

According to Bloomberg News, “Italy’s spy chief Gennaro Vecchione met twice in August with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and prosecutor John Durham to help an investigation into the scandal involving President Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia.”

However, this stage of the world tour to try and prove Trump’s conspiracy theory that the “deep state” was attempting to discredit his 2016 “victory” by attributing it to Russian assistance proved to be fruitless for the lackey attorney general:

During the first meeting, Barr and Durham asked Vecchione to reveal the whereabouts of Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, according to La Repubblica. He’s key in Trump’s efforts to show he was the victim of foreign meddling in the 2016 election and not the beneficiary of interference by Russia’s Vladimir Putin, as former Special Counsel Robert Mueller found….

According to La Repubblica, Barr and Durham also demanded proof that Italy, led at the time by Matteo Renzi, took part in the international conspiracy to discredit Trump’s campaign. In an interview published Sunday by La Stampa, Renzi dismissed the allegation as a “farce” and says he never met Mifsud.

At the Aug. 27 meeting with Barr and Durham, the heads of Italy’s security services had nothing to say to support the theory, according to La Repubblica — despite Vecchione’s initial promises.

However, Barr and Durham continue on their world tour to absolve Russia, despite conclusive intelligence services and Congressional findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. It is not inconceivable that they will find another nation dependent on the US to “confess” to interfering in the US election. Trump is extremely skilled at creating false narratives, and with Barr a willing bagman, don’t be surprised if Barr and Durham return from their travels with a spurious document, akin to Barr’s summary of the Mueller report, that Trump can use to claim he was the victim of the “Deep State.”

Expect both the Ukraine undertakings on behalf of Trump — and Barr’s world tour to try and buttress up Trump’s “deep state” conspiracy theory — to emerge as a drum for Trump to beat in an effort to move public opinion to be hostile toward impeachment.

What is important to remember in terms of Ukraine is that even though it is at the center of the impeachment inquiry, Trump has successfully intimidated Ukraine to give him what he wants, at least for the moment.

Watch for this below-the-radar activity to emerge as “official findings” in Trump’s efforts to muddy the waters, all, as noted above, in plain sight unless the impeachment inquiry grows to actually make Trump’s removal from office likely.

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