Members Only | November 25, 2019 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Is Devin Nunes a Witness to an International Criminal Conspiracy?
The president's strongest House defender faces new questions.
It has become increasingly clear that Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican in the House impeachment hearings, has been working directly or in tandem with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney. Donald Trump’s most powerful defender could be a fact witness in an international conspiracy to defraud the American people.
To explain, I have to put on my Leo Tolstoy hat. When this chapter in our history is written finally, it’ll look like War and Peace and feature characters by the hundreds.
Nunes was working directly or in tandem with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney.
CNN reported late Friday that the California representative traveled to Vienna in December of 2018 after the midterm elections. He met with Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former head prosecutor. That’s according to Lev Parnas, Giuliani’s henchman.
Parnas is under federal indictment for campaign-finance violations. His attorney told CNN that Parnas worked with Shokin and Giuliani to smear former Vice President Joe Biden and promote a Kremlin lie: that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the US in 2016.
I’ll get back to Nunes in a minute, but first: Shokin was the Ukraine prosecutor whom Biden lobbied to be fired when he was the vice president. It wasn’t because Shokin was too hard on the gas company Hunter Biden worked for. It was because Shokin wasn’t hard enough. (Biden was speaking for the Obama administration, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. They were pushing an anti-corruption agenda.)
Shokin is the author of a statement dated September 2019, per Bloomberg, in which he claimed—falsely—that Biden had him fired to protect Hunter Biden and that Ukraine, not Russia, conspired with the Democrats to undermine US national sovereignty.
Importantly, Shokin’s immediate successor as Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, said the same thing—Biden/Burisma + 2016—when John Solomon, at The Hill, interviewed him. Solomon’s series of interviews and columns were cited by the anonymous whistleblower complaint, which started the current impeachment process.
Shokin and Lutsenko were corrupt Ukrainian government officials. They were in bed with Vladimir Putin. According to a Times report over the weekend, and according to testimony by Fiona Hill last week, the argument that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the 2016 presidential election is standard-issue propaganda straight from the Kremlin. In other words, both Shokin and Lutsenko were repeating an already established lie.
Shokin and Lutsenko are connected in another way.
John Solomon’s attorneys are Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. (You may know them for their frequent appearances on Lou Dobbs’ show on the Fox Business Network.) DiGenova and Toensing put Solomon in touch with Lutsenko via Lev Parnas. Parnas was working with DiGenova and Toensing’s law firm. Indeed, Parnas watched Solomon interview Lutsenko at The Hill, according to a Pro Publica report.
DiGenova and Toensing were also hired by a Ukrainian oligarch (i.e., mobster) who’s fighting extradition to the US. That oligarch is Dmitry Firtash. Firtash’s henchman procured the false statement from Shokin (Biden had him fired and Ukraine attacked America). DiGenova and Toensing billed Firtash $1 million, according to Bloomberg.
When you’re digging up dirt on the American president’s rival in the hope that the US Department of Justice will go easy on you, legally speaking, that’s money well spent. Firtash probably wrote a check for that amount in Vienna, where he is on the lam. And Vienna, as you’ll recall, is where Viktor Shokin met Devin Nunes in December 2018.
When this chapter in our history is written finally, it’ll look like War and Peace and feature characters by the hundreds.
We now know, thanks to reporting this morning from the Times, that Rudy Giuliani and his goons worked directly with Firtash. They offered to help with his legal problems in the US if Firtash hired attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing.
DiGenova and Toensing later went to the Justice Department to plead his case with Bill Barr. They probably hinted that they had “evidence,” thanks to Firtash, that confirmed everything Barr’s boss already believed was true but was entirely false. This “evidence,” moreover, could rationalize Barr’s internal investigation into the origins of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, which the president has repeatedly said is a hoax.
This “evidence,” remember, comes from the Kremlin. What we’re seeing is the making of a conspiracy to defraud the American people and undermine popular sovereignty.
Good Lord, I know. All of this sounds like just another insane conspiracy theory. And normally, I’d heartily agree. But sometimes conspiracies are real, and we’re only now starting to see the strings form something close to a coherent web. Parnas’ attorney told CNN that his client met regularly with the “BLT Team,” a name taken from the restaurant where it met several times a week on the second floor of the Trump International Hotel in Washington. The team included Giuliani, Parnas, Solomon, DiGenova, Toensing and Nunes chief aide, Derek Harvey, who acted as Nunes’ proxy.
I haven’t yet seen reporting connecting Nunes to Dmitry Firtash. Moreover, Nunes has said he and his staff were conducting an investigation separate from Rudy Giuliani’s. But it happens their “investigations” have the same contours. They’re both about the Bidens. They’re both about the 2016 election. They both originated in the Kremlin. These are the same talking points Nunes brought to House impeachment hearings last week, talking points that Fiona Hill blasted as aiding and abetting Russian interests, partly because they create conditions in which the Kremlin can repeat its 2016 attack.
At the very least Nunes is a fact witness to a crime.
At the most, he’s complicit in a criminal conspiracy that dwarfs Watergate.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition open and available to all. Find him @johnastoehr.