Last night when I was cooking and waiting for the baseball game to start, I got a news alert from CNN on my phone about some Giuliani fuckery. Since that’s always amusing and I had a few minutes while waiting for the cheese on my eggplant parm to reach the ideal golden brown state, I read the article, all the way to the end, where CNN buried the lede:
According to this, Giuliani and indicted goons Parnas and Fruman were flying to Vienna for an interview with the disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor and SEAN HANNITY. ?
How two businessmen hustled to profit from access to Giuliani and the Trump administrationhttps://t.co/BquzTMFWG2
— Betty Cracker ? (@bettycrackerfl) October 23, 2019
Josh Marshall noticed that buried lede too.
The [CNN] article is about the seemingly limitless sleaze of Rudy Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the guys picked up at Dulles airport two weeks ago and pled not guilty today in federal court in Manhattan. Whatever else they were doing for Trump and Giuliani, basically everywhere they went with Rudy they were trying to shake down, consult for, borrow money or rip off every high roller they came into contact with.
But down in literally the last paragraph is something I’d never heard before and I don’t think has been reported elsewhere. Parnas and Fruman (with Giuliani to arrive via a separate flight, apparently) were on their way to Vienna to handle logistics for a blockbuster interview Viktor Shokin (the notorious fired prosecutor) was going to do on Hannity!
As we learned from Bill Taylor’s testimony, Trump’s Ukraine shake-down unit was pressuring Zelensky to appear on CNN and announce that his government had opened investigations into Ukraine’s role in the hijacked 2016 US presidential election and debunked corruption allegations against the Bidens. They wanted Zelensky to lend credence to the crackpot conspiracy theory Trump, Giuliani and others have been peddling for months — a phony story that conveniently exculpates Trump/Putin/Russia and implicates the DNC/Soros/Ukraine. The extortionists also wanted Zelensky to falsely paint the Bidens as shady, corrupt characters before the 2020 election.
That was Plan A in Trump’s corrupt scheme, and from what we know so far, it looks like it failed because Congress started asking questions about the aid Trump was illegally withholding and because folks like Taylor made it clear they weren’t on board. But this CNN report suggests that the Trumpsters didn’t give up after Taylor and others foiled Plan A.
The Trumpsters persisted with Plan B, even as the Ukraine scandal was exploding around them after the whistleblower complaint. They lined up Hannity for a big reveal with the disgraced prosecutor in Vienna, where, not coincidentally, Russia-aligned Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash is currently stranded while he fights US extradition on bribery charges.
Think of it — the only thing that stopped this brazen crew from carrying out Plan B of their illegal media smear campaign to rig 2020 was the cops pinching Giuliani’s goons! And yesterday those goons pleaded not guilty in federal court to funneling foreign money to Trump PACs and individual Republicans, and their lawyers raised executive privilege claims since the goons were working for Giuliani, who was working for Trump. Analysis: amazeballs!
As Marcy Wheeler noted on Twitter, Hannity’s involvement in the aborted Vienna interview makes AG Barr’s visit to Rupert Murdoch after the Giuliani goons were picked up all the more fascinating:
To clarify, the timeline from 10/9 looks something like this:
Lunch: Rudy and Ukrainian grifters lunch across from DOJ
6:22: Grifters arrested as they prepare to flee to Vienna
That evening: Bill Barr meets with SDNY
Later that evening: Barr meets with Murdoch
What did Hannity know, and when did he know it? Hannity casts a loving spaniel gaze on Trump whenever they’re in the same frame, which suggests that the bloviating host is a true believer, as he almost certainly is. But like Trump, Hannity is all aboard the ethnocentric state train not only for the white supremacy but also for personal gain.
Recall that Hannity was Michael Cohen’s mystery client. Did we ever get all the details on services rendered? Hannity may be up to his non-existent neck in Eastern European oligarchs too; it would be irresponsible not to speculate!
So, what’s next? I don’t think Baby Jeebus loves us enough to implicate and discredit every seat of wingnut power that rolled over when Trump brought his lunatic circus to town. But on the other hand, people and organizations that form cults around demented narcissists don’t tend to prosper, at least not in the long run.
The NRA used to be the most powerful lobbying group in DC, and now it’s a husk of its former self, exposed as a foreign cut-out and riddled with self-inflicted bullet wounds. Could the attorney general, certain influential Fox News figures and the dumbest and meanest GOP back-benchers come to grief in similar fashion? Probably not, but here’s hoping…