On Friday evening, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared to cancel his planned muck-making trip to Ukraine. But that cancellation didn’t stop the effort to create a scandal out of nothing—an effort that has now triggered the recall of the U.S. ambassador and signaled how much America’s foreign policy is being used to support Trump’s re-election.
The lesson that Team Trump drew from the 2016 election was clearly “Foreign interference? Yes, please!” And they learned that no matter how obvious, how blatant their efforts to secure that interference, Donald Trump could always find someone to be his Roy Cohn and make it all go away.
To double-down for 2020, Giuliani has been pushing a faux-scandal in which Joe Biden visited Ukraine and insisted on the removal of a prosecutor who was targeting a company where his son Hunter served on the board. In reality, the situation was nothing close to what Giuliani is suggesting. The prosecutor in question was not investigating the company, and in fact the reason Biden went after the prosecutor was because he had failed to assist a U.K. investigation. But Giuliani has been pushing a twisted lie, making it seem as if Biden was acting to benefit Hunter.
At the same time, Giuliani is pushing the idea that the reason Ukraine prosecutors spoke publicly about their investigations into crimes of Paul Manafort in 2015 and 2016 was “to help Hillary Clinton.” The truth on that was that, following an election and the entry of new players into the prosecution, new records of under-the-table payments were found that included many of the cronies of the former pro-Russian regime. Including millions that went to Manafort.
As The Washington Post reports, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has been forced from her position in Ukraine without warning and without a replacement. Just as Trump has placed left acting directors without Senate approval in charge of position after position, an unconfirmed Chargé d’Affaires will now arrive in Ukraine … to play the role of assistant meddler as Trump and Giuliani attempt to force the Ukraine government to play a role in their campaign.
Ambassador Yovanovitch was scheduled to leave over the summer, but her departure has been accelerated “after she became a target of political attacks by conservative media outlets and Donald Trump Jr.” Conservative commentators, including Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, have been making Yovanovitch a target as “Obama’s ambassador to Ukraine,” claimed that the ambassador had “an anti-Trump bias,” and another Fox commentator stated without evidence that she had “bad-mouthed” Trump to Ukrainian officials. Donald Trump Jr. repeated those claims and other complains from the alt-reich media.
In fact, Trump has never named an ambassador to Ukraine, just as he hasn’t gotten around to naming anyone to that role in dozens of countries. Yovanovitch had agreed to stay on until this summer by request.
Shortly after Trump Jr’s tweet, a Ukranian prosecutor claimed that Yovanovitch had given him a list of people who were not to be prosecuted. This was then published by The Hill. The prosecutor who provided the list … was the same prosecutor who Rudy Giuliani has been trying to persuade to play ball with the faux-scandal involving Hunter Biden. Information about the supposed list was published even though State Department officials told The Hill in advance that it was “an outright fabrication.” In the same interview, the prosecutor claimed that he intended to open investigations into not just the Biden connection, but into whether the Clinton campaign had paid off Ukrainian officials to investigate Manafort.
Giuliani trumpeted that these investigations had been opened. The New York Times dutifully repeated Giulani’s claims that these investigations were underway. Twice.
However, as Bloomberg found out with ten minutes genuine journalism … there were no such investigations. The only investigation into the company associated with Hunter Biden closed years ago, with a finding that there was nothing wrong. Not only was there no investigation into the idea that the Clinton campaign was somehow behind the charges against Manafort, there seemed to be not a single fact to support the idea.
The only facts were that the prosecutor claiming he was going to open these investigations after talking to Giuliani was on his way out, not because of anything being done in the U.S., but because an election in Ukraine had led to the victory of a pro-Europe, pro-NATO president who is bringing in a new team.
Putting pressure on the new prosecutor and new president was exactly the purpose of Giuliani’s now postponed trip to Ukraine — a fact that Giuliani has explicitly acknowledged in saying that there was absolutely nothing wrong with “meddling in an investigation.”
How all of this ties back to Ambassador Yovanovitch, is that she was a campaigner against corruption. Which is the opposite of what Trump and Giuliani are pushing. They aren’t just pro-corruption, they’re actively, openly working to corrupt the system to their own ends. Though Yovanovitch appears to have played no role in anything related to Giuliani’s actions—so far—it was clear that someone concerned about corruption had to go.
As the Post notes
The clear and coordinated effort to smear a sitting U.S. ambassador has now resulted in her early departure under attack after 33 years of service to administrations in both parties. But that’s just the beginning of the larger effort to create a cacophony of allegations by the Trump team and its allies to highlight Ukraine to attack Biden, help Manafort and re-litigate the 2016 election.
There really is a massive scandal building here. It has nothing to do with Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton.
Published with permission from Daily Kos