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Lawyer Says Parnas Would Testify About Numerous Trump Officials

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The attorney for Giuliani henchman Lev Parnas says his client is prepared to name top Trump administration officials, including the president, vice president, and the attorney general as co-conspirators in an extortion scheme.

“If Lev Parnas was called as a witness, he would provide testimony based upon personal knowledge, corroborated by physical evidence,” the three-page letter reportedly says, “directly relevant to the President’s impeachment inquiry.”

The letter is addressed to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Among those Parnas is prepared to name are President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Bill Barr, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, and the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Also, journalist John Solomon, a Nunes staffer, and the husband-wife legal team of Victoria Toensing and Joe di Genova.

Below is the letter from Parnas’ attorney, Joseph Bondy:

Parnas Attorney Confirms He Has More Recordings Of Trump

A lawyer for Lev Parnas, an indicted former associate of Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani who is now cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee, on Saturday said his client has more recordings of the president.

The revelation comes after Parnas, who has been indicted on charges of campaign finance violations, released a recording this week of Trump calling for former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanavitch’s ouster. The recording was made at the Trump International Hotel by Igor Fruman, another former associate of Giuliani who has likewise been indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Trump recalled Yovanavitch as the Ukraine ambassador in April 2019.

Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Parnas’ lawyer Joseph A. Bondy confirmed there are more recordings beyond the one Parnas made public on Friday, and noted that “perhaps” Parnas will release the other audio.

“We’ve sent recordings to the House Intelligence Committee also,” Bondy told CNN.

Discussing the audio already released by his client, Bondy said the recording “certainly addresses the issue of the ambassador and we thought it was really important to get that recording out in public today.”

“There’s a few aspects [of the recording] that are important,” Bondy told Cooper. “First off, we hear the president himself saying, ‘Get rid of the ambassador, fire her, get her out of there.’ And this is one of the first occasions in which he attempts to remove the ambassador.”

“Lev Parnas … was shocked,” Bondy said.

The White House maintains Trump did nothing wrong in removing Yovanavitch. Responding to Parnas’ recording, originally reported by ABC News, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, ”every president in our history has had the right to place people who support his agenda and his policies within his Administration.”

But Bondy suggested the president’s use of Parnas and Fruman to conduct diplomacy in Ukraine “makes no sense.”

“It’s still fascinating to me …” CNN’s Cooper told Bondy. “The fact that [Parnas] was the guy, and Igor Fruman, according the Lev Parnas, were the people on the ground in Ukraine, and they would literally go to a meeting with the former president [of Ukraine], with the man who is now heading the intelligence services in Ukraine, and hold up a phone and Rudy Giuliani would be on speakerphone saying, ‘Listen to these guys, they represent us, they represent the president, they represent me. Listen to what they have to say.”

“It’s unconventional,” Bondy agreed. “You wouldn’t expect diplomacy to be conducted that way. I can kind of wonder if there’s some reason to have Igor and Lev doing that bidding.”

Watch the video below:

New Lawsuit Says Trumps Oversaw Inaugural Overbilling

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

Then-President-elect Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka were warned in 2016 that the family business was overcharging the nonprofit presidential inaugural committee — and let it happen anyway, according to a suit filed Wednesday by the Washington, D.C., attorney general.

In the civil complaint, Attorney General Karl Racine charged the Trump inaugural committee and the Trump Organization with using around $1 million of charitable funds to improperly enrich the Trump family.

An experienced event planner who was working for the inaugural, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, raised concerns directly with Donald and Ivanka Trump that the Trump International Hotel in Washington was trying to overcharge the inaugural committee.

“Winston Wolkoff met with President-elect Trump and Ivanka Trump and discussed these concerns with both individuals,” the suit says. “The President-elect acknowledged these concerns and directed that Ivanka Trump would handle this issue.”

The complaint accuses three entities — the Trump Organization, the inaugural committee and the Trump hotel — of subverting the public purpose of a charity for the Trump family’s private benefit.

At the center of the complaint is a four-day rental agreement for the downtown Washington hotel’s ballroom and adjacent spaces. The hotel, and by extension the Trump family, was paid far above market rate, according to internal documents the attorney general obtained by subpoena.

As WNYC and ProPublica’s Trump, Inc. revealed, the Trump inaugural committee paid the Trump Organization over Wolkoff’s objections, which Ivanka had been aware of.

Documents uncovered by the D.C. attorney general contradict earlier statements by spokespeople for the Trumps that they had little or no involvement in the negotiations.

“The president was focused on the transition during that time and not on any of the planning for the inauguration,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in December 2018.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer, told WNYC and ProPublica in 2018 that Ivanka had only been contacted once about inauguration spending at Trump’s hotel: “Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”

The attorney general’s documents show deeper involvement.

Ivanka Trump was made aware of concerns about overpayment in a Dec. 12, 2016, email from Rick Gates, the deputy to the inaugural chairman, which she responded to two days later. On Dec. 16, Wolkoff raised her concerns in person with Donald and Ivanka Trump. The next day, Wolkoff again objected to the Trump hotel’s proposed rates.

“These events are in PE’s [the president-elect’s] honor at his hotel and one of them is for family and close friends,” she wrote in an email to Ivanka and Gates. “Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge.”

Other venues hosting inauguration events provided space for free.

On Jan. 10, 2017, the inaugural committee finalized its contract with the hotel at $175,000 per day, over Wolkoff’s objections. The committee was also charged for days when it wasn’t even using the space, the suit says.

One event, costing more than $300,000, was a private reception at the Trump hotel “benefiting only the children of the President,” the complaint says.

“DJT is not expected to attend but was more for you, Don and Eric,” Gates wrote in an email to Ivanka Trump several days before the event, according to the complaint.

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization dismissed the D.C. suit in an emailed statement:

“The AG’s claims are false, intentionally misleading and riddled with inaccuracies. The rates charged by the hotel were completely in line with what anyone else would have been charged for an unprecedented event of this enormous magnitude and were reflective of the fact that [sic] hotel had just recently opened, possessed superior facilities and was centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue. The AG’s after the fact attempt to regulate what discounts it believes the hotel should have provided as well as the timing of this complaint reeks of politics and is a clear PR stunt.”

Spokespeople for the inaugural committee, the White House and Ivanka Trump did not immediately comment. A spokesman for the IRS, which regulates charities, said “federal law prohibits the IRS from discussing specific taxpayers.”

D.C. is asking the court to compel the Trump Organization to place at least $1,033,757 in a trust, so the money can be allocated “to another nonprofit entity dedicated to promoting civic engagement of the citizens of the United States of America.”

The Trump inaugural committee drew scrutiny from the moment it first reported its financials. The committee raised nearly $107 million, close to double the haul of President Barack Obama’s record-setting 2009 bash, despite being a much smaller event. Past inaugural planners said they would struggle to spend a sum of money that large.

“It’s inexplicable to me,” Greg Jenkins, who led former President George W. Bush’s second inaugural committee, told Trump, Inc.

How McConnell Plans To Conceal New Witnesses In Trump Trial

During the House’s impeachment inquiry, Republicans raged about the process, condemning Democrats for holding witness interviews behind closed doors and even trying to dismiss the entire investigation because of it.

Donald Trump himself said the process had “zero transparency” because of the closed-door depositions. Republicans went as far as protesting the process by storming a secure area of the Capitol where the closed-door depositions were being held, a move that compromised national security.

However, under the impeachment trial rules crafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, any potential impeachment witnesses would first need to be deposed behind closed doors — adopting a process the GOP attacked Democrats for using. The “Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify, pursuant to the impeachment rules,” according to McConnell’s resolution.

Republicans are expected to vote to approve McConnell’s impeachment trial rules that include the closed-door deposition requirement on Tuesday afternoon. That means multiple GOP senators who condemned the House’s process will now be signing off on the very same procedures they previously criticized.

In fact, 50 Senate Republicans co-sponsored a resolution by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that “[condemned] the House of Representatives’ closed door impeachment inquiry.”

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in a statement during the House impeachment inquiry that Democrats were “running a closed-door process that denies due process to President Trump.”

“This secretive approach allows House Democrats to selectively leak information that supports their political agenda of attacking President Trump at the expense of providing fairness to the President and transparency to the American people,” Tillis said in October.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said in a statement supporting the Graham resolution, “There’s a clear way to conduct an inquiry like this: In front of the public, with the minority having proper rights, with the accused having some basic fairness and due process.”

Ultimately, Democrats released all of the transcripts from the closed-door depositions they held in the impeachment inquiry. And the same people that were deposed behind closed doors later wound up testifying in public, meaning that the “secret” proceedings Republicans railed against weren’t so secret after all.

And now, Republicans also want to hold closed-door depositions — if Republicans consent to hearing from any witnesses at all. McConnell has said he does not want to hear from any witnesses and wants to acquit Trump quickly.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.