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Tuesday, 19 November 2019 00:49

TRUMPGATE: THE UKRAINIAN SAGA STILL GOES ON

Janos Szeky, Radio Lemberg Hungary, 18.11.2019 

 

On November 15, Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to Kyiv, gave a testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in the Trump impeachment case. In a nutshell, Ms. Yovanovitch, an experienced career diplomat with an unblemished moral and professional record, was removed from her post last May. Donald Trump himself did not give any explicit reason for this decision, but it was understood that he considered the Ambassador an enemy, who was obstructing his efforts to persuade Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate Joe Biden and cooperate with his right-hand man Rudy Giuliani (also with Attorney General William Barr).

 

Giuliani's project was to give substance to Donald Trump's conspiracy theory, which ran on two threads. One was the charge that Joe Biden interfered in Ukrainian politics by using his influence illegally to shield Burisma from prosecution, as his own son, Hunter Biden was on the board. The other appears to be total fabrication (rather than just speculation): that Ukraine owns the Democratic National Committee's server as well as Hillary Clinton's deleted emails; and that Paul Manafort was zapped jointly by the Democrats and the Ukrainians.

 

Anyone who has read Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward if familiar with the story of how Manafort's ousting actually saved Trump's campaign; he would have never been a president if Steve Bannon had not taken over the management. He should be grateful to anyone who broke the news, if he was not so keen on pushing the theory that there was no “Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election”, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's appointment says in its title; rather, there was Ukrainian interference. 

 

Where does this crazy narrative come from? Maybe from the ultimate source of most modern false narratives itself. Or more precisely, himself. At the hearing, the Democrats' counsel Daniel Goldman quoted a couple of sentence that Vladimir Putin said at a press conference in Budapest, February 2. 2017, after one of his regular meetings with the faithful Hungarian ally, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. It goes: “Second, as we all know, during the presidential campaign in the United States, the Ukrainian government adopted a unilateral position in favour of one candidate. More than that, certain oligarchs, certainly with the approval of the political leadership, funded this candidate, or female candidate, to be more precise.” (I suspect in Russian he used the word кандидатка, which sounds more succinct than “female candidate,” referring to Hillary Clinton of course). 

 

I would venture no one at the moment quite understood what or whom Putin was talking about. These were the days of the Battle of Avdiivka, and Putin's words accompanied a characteristically cynical snide remark about the Ukrainian government “trying to pose as victims of aggression”, while they just make war to cover the fact that they had bet on the wrong side in the U.S. Elections. But the script was there – the Ukrainian oligarchs, with government approval, spend large sums to get Hillary Clinton elected. This happens to be the same conspiracy theory that Trump and Giuliani tries to prove more than two years later. 

 

The only problem is that the facts do not fit together. Ms. Yovanovitch herself says that Serhiy Leshchenko, who revealed the Black Ledger entries on Manafort, was more interested in Viktor Yanukovich than Manafort, and that she did not know about Leshchenko targeting Trump. Moreover, if we look at the oligarchs Leshchenko is said to have been associated with (directly or indirectly), namely Lyovochkin, Firtash, or Grigorishin, we find that none of them was on the Poroshenko/Hroysman government's side, to say the least. Probably there has been no cooperation between the government and oligarchs (or Leschchenko) in this case. Neither could Trump show any evidence for his theory that CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity company which found out that the DNC had been hacked by Russia in 2016, was owned by a Ukrainian person. 

 

The constitutional mechanism, which requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, makes it highly improbable that the impeachment process would be successful. After Marie Yovanovitch's testimony, however, it became even more clear that in their own defense or counter-attack Trump & Co. push a narrative that was written in Muscovy. How they came by this elaborate script is another matter, something for journalists with the American, Russian, and Ukrainian sources to find out. 

 

As for Yovanovitch's dismissal, Joe Biden did make the mistake ("by omission") of allowing his son to join Burisma's board. But this does not mean that Lutsenko, an immaculate friend of the truth, was sacked just to stop the investigation.

 

Giuliani's two consultants, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, seem to be instrumental in providing Giuliani with the mendacious argument that the Ambassador gave Prosecutor Lutsenko a "Do Not Prosecute" list. These two shady characters are, in turn, associated with Yuriy Lutsenko himself; his even more controversial and internationally despised predecessor Viktor Shokin; and, again, Dmytro Firtash; a real rogues' gallery. This part of the script was apparently not written in the Kremlin but rather in the post-Soviet anti-rule-of-law underworld of oligarchs and corrupt prosecutors; which does not make it any better.

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