Swamp Rabbit wanted to know why the corporate news media are blatantly anti-Bernie.
“Because he’s a pushy old guy from the Bronx,” I said. “Because he complains about their biased coverage of his campaign.”
Swamp Rabbit was referring specifically to the recent candidates’ debate in which CNN talking head Abby Phillip asked Bernie Sanders why he told Elizabeth Warren that a woman could not win the presidential election. Sanders denied the charge. Phillip then turned to Warren and said, “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”
“It’s like she was calling Bernie a liar,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Them talking heads on CNN don’t even give him the benefit of the doubt.”
I tried again to explain. All the big media outlets hate Sanders for saying they’re in bed with Wall Street and the insurance industry and the defense industry and the student loan racket and Big Pharma. He makes them look bad, and they get even by distorting his policies and pretending he’s not doing well as a candidate.
The real surprise is Warren, who heightened the drama by confronting Sanders after the debate. By openly feuding with him, the only other progressive in the race, she arguably weakens both of their campaigns and strengthens Biden and Buttigieg, the corporate-friendly candidates. The CEOs who run the corporate media would love to see Sanders and Warren knock each other out of the race.
“I don’t get it,” Swamp Rabbit said. “Why did Warren make it a #MeToo thing?” She might as well have said Bernie is a — what’s the word? — a mis-og-o-nist. What good’s that gonna do her in the long run? “
“She knows he’s not a misogynist,” I replied. “She was pissed. Some of Bernie’s campaign workers have been telling people she can’t win because rednecks will never vote for her.”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m a redneck and I’d vote for her in a heartbeat. I’d vote for Booty if I had to, or for Biden, God forbid. Consider the alternative.”
A computer security expert says he found that a forensic image of the election server central to a legal battle over the integrity of Georgia elections showed signs that the original server was hacked.
The server was left exposed to the open internet for at least six months, a problem the same expert discovered in August 2016. It was subsequently wiped clean in mid-2017 with no notice, just days after election integrity activists filed a lawsuit seeking an overhaul of what they called the state’s unreliable and negligently run election system.
Lev Parnas is scared. Scared of what may happen to him and his family. But mostly he’s scared of what Attorney General William Barr’s Department of Justice could do to him.
In the second part of his interview with Rachel Maddow Thursday, the indicted Rudy Giuliani employee/client got to the point of why, while under federal indictment in New York for separate campaign finance violations, he is speaking publicly about his role in the Ukraine conspiracy. Describing Trump more as “a cult leader” than an organized crime figure, Parnas told Maddow (emphasis mine):
“There’s a lot of Republicans that would go against [Trump],” Parnas continued. “If you take a look, the difference between why Trump is so powerful now, he wasn’t so powerful in ’16 and ’17, he became that powerful when he got William Barr.“
“I think I’m more scared of our own Justice Department than I am scared of these criminals right now,” Parnas said. “The scariest part is getting locked in some room and being treated as an animal when you did nothing wrong. That’s the tool they’re using. They tried to scare me into not talking.”
“With God’s help and my lawyer next to me who I know will go to bat for me no matter what with the truth,” Parnas added, “I’m taking a chance. My wife is scared. My kids are nervous.”
Parnas felt he’d done nothing wrong and felt himself under the White House’s protection of Trump’s lawyers. Until Trump attorneys John Dowd and Kevin Downing came to him in jail:
“I called Dowd to come there. And I started seeing in the process of the bail stuff, the way things were going on … I didn’t feel they were trying to get me out,” Parnas said. “John Dowd instead of comforting me and trying to calm me down and telling me I’m going to be OK, he started talking to me like a drill sergeant.”
Parnas quickly realized they were not there on his behalf but to protect the president. They were there to keep him quiet.
Parnas is speaking publicly because he fears his fate is in William Barr’s hands. Southern District of New York prosecutors (DOJ) have his materials and can hang him out to dry if Barr involves himself in the case. Parnas is trying to set the public narrative on his role in the conspiracy before Barr can. And perhaps to earn himself some form of indemnity on other charges by giving up bigger fish before that happens.
Untangling the Gordian Knot of Donald Trump’s Ukraine conspiracy will take more space and time than we have here. Some of what he told Maddow is self-serving and false, journalist Marcy Wheeler believes.
Wheeler fact-checked the interview in real time and notes that Parnas’s claims that he got his negative views of Ambassador Yovanovitch from those around him are untrue. “He was a leader, not a follower, on attacking Yovanovitch,” Wheeler writes, and was active in that effort long before it began in earnest with Giuliani’s involvement.
Parnas’s “silences–eg, abt Firtash–are all the more telling,” Wheeler tweeted about Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch with Russian mob connections. Firtash is holed-up in Vienna fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery conspiracy charges.
Josh Marshall adds detail on how Parnas’s revelations regarding Firtash implicate Barr in a deeper conspiracy:
The allegation is this: Trump and his legal team offered to have federal foreign bribery charges against Firtash dropped if the oligarch, described by federal prosecutors as an “upper-echelon” associate of the Russian mafia, helped Trump discredit the Mueller investigation and Joe Biden.
If corroborated, Parnas’ allegations would implicate Attorney General Bill Barr in the scandal in a deeper way than previously known, and would suggest that federal indictments are up for grabs as a bargaining chip for Trump’s political fortunes.
Firtash is represented by Fox News lawyers Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing via a Parnas introduction. Three people familiar with their meeting with Barr told the Washington Post Barr declined to intercede.
Which raises the question: How can senators in good conscience take this solemn oath on Thursday when many of them have already decided whether the president is guilty or not?
The answer as I see it after studying the trial rules and talking to various constitutional scholars is this: In this setting, impartiality is subjective, and even if senators were to break their own version of the oath, there’s nothing holding them to it.