Finally A “Smoking Gun”, Sort Of…
It’s in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report
Here’s a link to the full 300-page report, should you care to peruse…
And it details something we hadn’t known before: just who Trump’s personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani was calling on the phone, and also when, and with what frequency, and for how long.
We say “sort of” because it’s really (at least at this point) a “smoking gun” on Giuliani, not directly on Trump. And they’re only call records, not recordings, so we have no idea about what Giuliani may have discussed on those calls. Especially since the recipients of Giuliani’s calls have refused, so far, to testify publicly. (Although other witnesses have filled in a lot of the blanks.) Anyway, the fact that Giuliani made these calls with such overwhelming frequency, on such key dates, to such central players, make it almost impossible for defenders of Trump to assert they’re in any way legit.
Much has been made about someone Giuliani called a bunch, identified in the report only as “-1”. Could that be the President? Even if it is, it would be the easiest to explain away. Giuliani is Trump’s personal lawyer. Of course he would be calling Trump. Probably all the time for all kinds of reasons. (Which of course Giuliani was quick to point out himself, on Twitter.)
But why would Giuliani be calling the White House Office of Management and Budget (unless Trump happened to be hanging out there that day)? Or the White House Situation Room?
Or most damningly, why would Trump’s personal lawyer be repeatedly calling the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (R) CA? And why would Nunes in turn, be also talking to an arrested and indicted Giuliani henchman named Lev Parnas? Yes, those records are in there too.
Remember, Giuliani isn’t someone who officially works for the White House, he’s someone who works only, personally for Trump, and on the basis of some shadowy arrangement where he doesn’t get paid.
Since as we said, Trump’s defenders really can’t argue right now these calls were in any way legit, instead of wavering, they’re flailing as never before: suggesting for instance that Representative Nunes might’ve had his cellphone temporarily misappropriated or stolen (but then somehow presumably returned?) And since nobody can prove he was actually on the other end of these calls, even though they were made to his number and connected, that somehow exonerates him?
The other tactic we’ve seen deployed by Trump’s folks today is not disputing the phone records themselves but arguing with great outrage that it’s an abomination and complete abuse of power for the Committee to have obtained and then published them. Retribution seems to involve getting the original whistleblower’s name out there. Or the person they believe was the whistleblower, since their identify is protected by federal law. Which is why we’re not linking to any of the responses taking that tack. (Otherwise we would’ve.) But take our word for it: they’re out there, and in places where they’re getting lots of reads. We do think there’s a good chance the backlash to the Committee’s report may regrettably be the whistleblower getting outed.
Ultimately, what we’ve pasted below, which we pulled from the committee’s report, is what it all comes down to. And (except for the “-1”), it’s clear as a bell. Maybe now some of Trump’s folks will start feeling it’s necessary to start explaining themselves. (Sometimes known as CYA.) Because we see very little way around some very serious repercussions otherwise. Unless…they just decide to lay it all on Giuliani. Because except for Rep. Nunes, he’s the only one directly implicated by this newly revealed material. Trump is only by association; more clearly if you tie the threads together offered by people who did testify with these phone calls. (Which the Committee does do, to its credit, in its footnotes.) Which may be why Giuliani’s running around Eastern Europe right now trying to get people to say on camera that he (and presumably the President) are innocent. It’s his “Hail Mary” and if it doesn’t work, it leaves him with only his oft-touted (but sarcastically!) “insurance policy”.