Bill Barr has been covering up Lev Parnas' explosive evidence for the past three months

Bill Barr has been covering up Lev Parnas' explosive evidence for the past three months
Lev Parnas and his attorney appear on The Rachel Maddow show.

Among the eye-popping revelations from Lev Parnas, a low-level Republican hustler and associate of Rudy Giuliani who has been thrust into the spotlight of Trump's impeachment, is that the president* "knew exactly what was going on" as his flunkies tried to coerce the Ukrainian government into opening a sham investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter--as did Vice President Mike Pence--and that Attorney General Bill Barr "was basically on the team" along with Giuliani, Parnas, his associates Igor Fruman and Semyon Kislin, and lawyers (and frequent Fox News guests) Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, among others.

It is important to understand that not only did Parnas implicate Barr in the corrupt scheme, but Barr's Justice Department has been in possession of the trove of documents and recordings that Parnas just turned over to House investigators for several months. Parnas was arrested by federal agents back in October with six electronic devices, and authorities confiscated another eight from his Florida home shortly thereafter.

Democrats requested documents from Parnas, Fruman and Kislin back in September,  prior to their arrests. Barr's Justice Department has fought those efforts tooth-and-nail--including Congressional subpoenas of Giuliani and subsequently of Parnas himself--according to Barr's theory that the president and his advisors enjoy absolute immunity from Congressional probes. Parnas's attorneys had to ask a federal judge to allow their client to comply with Congressional document requests.

If Parnas's allegations are true, then Barr was a participant in a conspiracy to violate the law and has been actively covering up evidence of that scheme. But it's important to note here that while Parnas has documentary evidence to support much of what he has said on the record, the claim that Barr was personally "on the team" has yet to be corroborated.

A Justice Department spokesperson issued a denial, but there are some aspects of Parnas's narrative that fit with what we know from previous reporting.

On Wednesday night, Parnas told Rachel Maddow that he and Giuliana had cut a deal with Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who has been holed up in Vienna for six years fighting extradition to the US on corruption charges.  According to Parnas's account, they promised Firtash that the Justice Department would make the charges against him disappear in exchange for fodder to use against Biden. "We had to promise Firtash something,” he told the MSNBC host. “It was basically telling him we knew his case is worthless here and that he’s being prosecuted for no reason and basically it could get taken care of....It was all connected At the end of the day, the agenda was to make sure that the Ukrainians announced the Biden investigation.” He added that Barr was “in the loop” on this offer.

Last September, Firtash deposited $1 million into Parnas's wife's account for unknown purposes. Parnas subsequently retained Rudy Giuliani's firm despite the fact that he was working for Giuliani. This was just days before Parnas departed for Kyiv on his "secret mission" for Trump, and The New York Times reports that having Rudy represent both Trump and Parnas was "a move that might afford their shared mission the confidentiality of attorney-client privilege." Giuliani denies this account but Firtash's payment to Parnas was established when prosecutors asked a judge to revoke the latter's bail for failing to disclose it.

Although Barr ultimately decided not to intervene in the case, The Washington Post reported that Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova "secured a rare face-to-face meeting with Attorney General William P. Barr and other Justice Department officials to argue against the charges" last summer. The DOJ also refused to respond to repeated questions over an 18-month period by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) about why Firtash had not yet been extradited, according to NBC.

Of course, everything about Barr's past would be consistent with his covering up Trump's extortion scheme, if not actively participating in it. Recall that last September it was reported that "Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election."

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