Another major revelation in the maybe soon-to-be published book by Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton addresses this possibility…
Perhaps understandably, this part of what is said to appear in Bolton’s book, hasn’t been widely covered yet. According to the New York Times, Bolton asserts nobody in Trump’s orbit had a bone to pick with now ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, not Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, not Bolton himself. Except Trump’s private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Which leads Bolton to conclude, according to the Times:
“Giuliani may have been acting on behalf of other clients“.
On top of that, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eliot Engel (D) NY, just now said he spoke to Bolton just a few days after Trump fired him, and Bolton urged the Congressman to investigate the circumstances around the recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch:
“He strongly implied that something improper had occurred around her removal“.
The White House is now suggesting it will try to block publication of Bolton’s book contending, as President Trump puts it, it’s all: “Classified National Security”. (Which is why we say maybe today in the headline).
So since we may not get more details for a while, (or it may be a bluff until the impeachment process is over), let’s use what’s already out there from Bolton (via the Times) as a launching point to do some conspiracy theorizing of our own today…
Giuliani was and is working privately for Trump, for free. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman (who are both now indicted) were at least working in Trump’s interests, apparently taking direction from Giuliani, if not directly from the President. However, as we’ve pointed out before, Fruman paid Giuliani at one point, not the other way around.
But Trump wasn’t paying any of them. So who was? Nobody knows.
Bolton’s contention implies some singular source had Giuliani’s ear, and through him had gotten the message to resonate with Trump that Ambassador Yovanovitch must go. Giuliani has sworn up and down that he “never received a penny” from the Ukraine government. But Giuliani is very adept at employing technicalities and loopholes to declare things to be clear cut that really aren’t. For instance, before it became undeniable he’d received money from Parnas, he insisted “The money did not come from foreigners. I can rule that out 100%”. And technically, that’s true. Parnas is a U.S. citizen. But it doesn’t make any guarantees for where Parnas got the money.
Ever since we wrote the story “If Rudy Giuliani’s Not Getting Paid By Trump, Then Who Paid His Henchmen?”, something’s nagged at us. And that’s the fact that now-indicted Giuliani cohort, Parnas, paid Giuliani, not vice-versa, while of course Giuliani’s working for Trump for free. So that organizational chart is just screaming out at us. That it’s telling us more than we’re able right now to take from it. It’s not at all clear who was paying Parnas, although a shady businessman with deep Russian connections gave his wife a million dollars. That’s according to U.S. government investigators. That much we know.
And as we continued to mull this over, out came audio of a conversation at a dinner involving Parnas and President Trump, at a dinner Giuliani did not attend, supplied by Parnas’ lawyer. And here’s Parnas lobbing up the suggestion that Trump do something about his Ambassador to Ukraine because according to him she’s talking trash behind his back, and: “She’s still left over from the Clinton administration”. And Trump immediately swatting at it, in his now instantly famously response:
“Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.”
We should note the name “Biden” was not front and center as part of that dinner conversation. And neither was Trump’s outburst to fire Yovanovitch made to actually happen at that point.
We’ll speculate Trump has those kinds of outbursts with some frequency, and then nobody then does anything about because they know he does that kind of thing all the time. Which may be why, as Trump complains later, then White House Chief Counsel Don McGahn makes Trump have these types of off-the-cuff prime gatherings outside the White House. (We had a Trump-like boss once that would fire us with some regularity and then call us at home and yell at us if we weren’t in the office at our jobs the following morning).
But Parnas’ suggestion does seem to have planted a seed. Why would Parnas want to plant that seed? Who would want Parnas to plant that seed?
We know from other parts of that same conversation, and from the interviews he’s been doing recently, Parnas had at least a stated interest in leveraging his relationship with Trump and Giuliani to help build an energy trading and exploration company dealing in Ukraine. It’s not clear however, whether Parnas and his partner ever got to a point where they used that company for anything other than allegedly funneling illegal overseas campaign contributions to organizations affiliated with Trump, which is what they’re under indictment for right now. And part of a U.S. Ambassador’s job is to help American-owned businesses succeed overseas. (And Parnas is a U.S. citizen.) Unless, of course, an Ambassador thinks something fishy is going on.
Which might explain, in turn, where Energy Secretary Rick Perry comes in. Perry did attend the inauguration of Ukraine’s current President Zelensky. Shortly after, according to the Associate Press (which has been consistently ahead of everybody on this story), two of his boosters were awarded a large-scale gas deal at a cut-rate price by the Ukrainian government. Perry’s on the list of folks the White House is refusing to allow to talk to Congress.
So now time for the “what if”? And this isn’t something we came up with. A friend suggested it. So while we can’t take credit for it, it makes as much sense as anything else.
What if somebody knew Trump would have a bee in his bonnet about the Bidens, (and the whereabouts of a Democratic National Committee server he’s on a quest for), and guessed correctly that those items dangled before the President could supercharge their efforts to get rid of—and before that perhaps actively surveil—his own ambassador in Ukraine.
All they had to do was tie all of it together and get it into Giuliani’s ear and whammo! it’d get to Trump.
We don’t have evidence of the mechanics of that. But we do have the President saying to the new President of Ukraine of Yovanovitch:
“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news, and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that….she’s going to go through some things.”
And that isn’t from some leaked or newly unconcealed document. That’s directly from the “rough transcript” of his “perfect” call that Trump’s been exhorting us to read, as in “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” In the call, Ukraine’s President Zelensky agrees with Trump that getting rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch was a good idea, which kind of undermines our theory, but also may just be him trying to be agreeable with Trump, as he is in other parts of the call. (After all, she was already gone.)
Back in September of last year, we wrote a column entitled “Never Heard Of Marie Yovanovitch? You Will Now…”. What we meant by that is most people in the U.S. probably hadn’t. (Nor, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo probably would assert, would most Americans be able to find Ukraine on a map.) But that was certainly not the case in Ukraine and its neighbor, Russia. (It would be easy to find Ukraine on a map, BTW, if Crimea, which dangles down, hadn’t been invaded and taken over by Russia under the orders of President Putin).
In that context a couple of pretty easy answers pop up (and probably a lot of more complicated ones) of why it would be good to have her out of the way, that have nothing to do with her standing in the way of investigations of the President’s conspiracy theories:
- Oversight over oil and gas resources, at least insofar as U.S.-based companies were involved.
- Destabilizing the reform-minded new President of Ukraine from the get-go, and weakening his government’s standing even as it was just trying to find its footing. Just as Ukraine’s President Zelensky felt strongly Trump’s presence at his inauguration, or a White House meeting would strengthen it. In other words, screw up internal politics in Ukraine, and with that weaken its resolve and ability to get Russia at least a little off its back both militarily and economically. Of course Trump withholding previously-allocated military aid would also serve just that purpose.
So if it was Trump and Giuliani getting played, how did whomever was playing them know their plan would work? Simple. Like we said, they had good bait: Bidens and a Hillary Clinton-linked server Trump is convinced is sitting somewhere in Ukraine. And as much as Trump likes to say he likes “sneak attacks”, he’s very predictable, especially about things he’s obsessed about.
Trump at least partly based his decision that Yovanovitch must be fired on information he got from Parnas. Directly, and through Giuliani. That much we know. As we said, we also know neither of them is explicitly paid by the President or the U.S. government to offer that kind of information or advice. Or really, to do anything. And Giuliani was getting paid at least in part by Parnas, who is feeding him that information. So what does that look like? More than anything else that Giuliani’s a rube, and he in turn (perhaps unintentionally), made Trump a rube too.
The big open question we keep returning to and will continue to nag us is who? If this was an operation to remove the Ambassador and unsettle power structures, who was paying the players who got close to Giuliani/Trump and successfully got it done?
If this is all about messaging getting to Trump via Giuliani, not from Trump via Giuliani, who is the mastermind? Aside from maybe the one guy we mentioned above, the Russia-connected Dmitry Firtash, who gave Parnas’ wife a million dollars, that’s still pretty much completely a mystery.
And even if Trump and Giuliani are the ones who got rolled, doesn’t make Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine any more right or wrong. And wouldn’t make his motives any more upstanding. But if he got played, might explain a lot of the hell breaking loose we’re seeing right now at least a little more neatly, and a lot more chillingly.