Despite Republican hand wringing and attempts to ignore the mounting evidence against President Donald Trump and his associates, that evidence keeps piling up. Now, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has revealed another portion of her interview with personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas, and in that interview, he’s now been revealed to have implicated none other than Lindsey Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a prominent Trump ally. Parnas revealed Graham’s role in the Ukraine bribery scheme that has driven Trump’s impeachment.
In short, Giuliani and others — including, Parnas claimed, the president himself — were trying to secure a visa to allow former Ukrainian official Viktor Shokin to travel to the U.S., where he would brief figures including Graham. Shokin is one of the top figures who the president and his team have relied on in their efforts to bribe Ukraine into investigating Trump’s domestic political opponents, including the Bidens. Shokin baselessly alleged that while in office as vice president, Joe Biden had pressured Ukraine to fire him specifically because he was developing an investigation of Joe’s son, Hunter, over his role with a corrupt energy company.
Parnas told Maddow:
‘After the conversation that Mr. Shokin had with Mr. Giuliani over Skype, they had discussed and arranged that they were going to have Mr. Shokin come here and Mr. Giuliani wanted to debrief him in front of Mr. Lindsey Graham and certain other people, like the attorney general.’
Maddow asked for more clarification about what exactly Shokin was planning to say when he got to the United States, and Parnas continued:
‘He was basically going to testify and say that Joe Biden basically forced him out because he was going to investigate Hunter Biden and Burisma.’
According to Parnas, Trump personally got involved in trying to get a visa for Viktor Shokin to come to the U.S. and brief Giuliani, Barr, and Lindsey Graham—despite the U.S. government's official position that Shokin shouldn't be allowed a visa because of his corruption. pic.twitter.com/JejTwY79I6
— The Moscow Project (@moscow_project) January 17, 2020
This allegation is one of the centerpieces of the president’s conspiracy theories about the Bidens, but it is completely unsupported. When Biden pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin, many other world leaders were also supporting that pressure and had also concluded that Shokin was corrupt. As Maddow herself noted, Shokin’s visa is believed to have been blocked specifically because of his own corruption. And this is the guy who Trump and Giuliani — and Lindsey Graham — were set up to rely on, although the extent of Graham’s active involvement is not immediately clear.
Graham has long set himself up as an ardent defender of Trump in the impeachment saga, which was kickstarted by the revelation of his Ukraine bribery plot. He was one of the leading voices criticizing House Democrats for delaying sending their impeachment case over to the Senate for a trial, and he introduced a Senate resolution denouncing that delay, which was meant to provide a chance for advocacy for fairness in the trial.
More recently, this past Wednesday, he railed during a Fox appearance:
‘The best thing for the American people is to end this crap as quickly as possible, to have a trial in the Senate, bipartisan acquittal of the president. And on Feb. 4, when the president comes into the House chamber to deliver the State of the Union, he will have been acquitted by the Senate.’
Considering his own previous insistence that he will not be an impartial juror, Graham has apparently completely thrown out even the pretense of seriously considering the evidence.