Irony is thriving in the Trump administration. Consider this: The president spent months, and was ultimately impeached for, badgering the Ukrainian government to announce a probe into the natural-gas company Burisma. Yet all it took was the release of some text messages by Lev Parnas, an accused criminal with a checkered past, for Ukraine to quickly announce it is investigating alleged illegal surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
The supposed surveillance, which is described in documents that Parnas turned over to the House Intelligence Committee, is one of several explosive claims to emerge this week. In the messages, Robert Hyde—who had contacts with the Trump family and is a Republican candidate for the U.S. House—described surveillance of Yovanovitch in Ukraine. She was abruptly fired in May 2019 after a pressure campaign directed by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer. (Parnas, for the record, told Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that he believed Hyde was telling tall tales.)
Parnas turned over notes that again suggest—as House testimony from Ambassador Gordon Sondland previously attested—that Trump and Giuliani were only interested in the announcement of a probe, not the fact of one. This both undermines Trump’s claim to have been trying to fight corruption in Ukraine and indicates that the president’s goal was hurting Joe Biden and enhancing his own reelection chances. [Continue reading…]