Trump will face uphill battle discrediting Parnas after so many other aides ended up in jail: columnist

Writing for The New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg pointed out that President Donald Trump could have a difficult time trying to discredit indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas as untrustworthy in his allegations about the Ukraine scheme — because his sleaziness and disrepute is the whole reason that he was so useful to Trump's team in the first place.

"Now that Lev Parnas, a key conspirator in Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s plot to shake down Ukraine, is singing, Trump’s defenders are pointing out that he is a disreputable person who can’t be trusted," wrote Goldberg. "'This is a man who is under indictment and who’s actually out on bail. This is a man who owns a company called Fraud Inc.,' the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said on Fox News, the only network on which she regularly appears. (Parnas's company was actually called Fraud Guarantee, though that’s not any better.)"

For the record, noted Goldberg, "Trumpists similarly dismissed Michael Cohen, who served as Trump’s personal lawyer before Giuliani did. The day Cohen testified to Congress that Trump is a 'racist,' a 'con man' and a 'cheat,' a Trump campaign spokeswoman blasted him as 'a felon, a disbarred lawyer and a convicted perjurer.' (Some of his felonies, of course, were things he did for Trump.) When Rick Gates, Trump's former deputy campaign chairman, testified against his former boss Paul Manafort, Manafort's lawyer grilled him, asking, 'After all the lies you've told and fraud you've committed, you expect this jury to believe you?'"

"Nothing that Parnas said in the Maddow interview should be taken at face value. Important questions remain unanswered, including who was paying all of the bills. (Remember — he was paying Giuliani, not vice versa.) Parnas’s decision to go public in the first place is hard to fathom," wrote Goldberg. "None of that, however, means that his dramatic interview on the eve of Trump’s impeachment trial shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s because much of what he says has been corroborated, and because the very fact that a person like Parnas was carrying out high-level international missions for the president shows how mob-like this administration is."

"Parnas was the vehicle through which a dirty Ukrainian politician pulled Trump’s strings to take revenge on an American official who’d tried to uphold the rule of law. She was threatened, smeared and fired in part because Trump is easily influenced by the goons and bottom feeders in his orbit," wrote Goldberg. "By going public, Parnas has probably done nothing to sway Republicans toward removing Trump from office, not because they don’t believe him, but because they know Trump did what he’s accused of and don’t care."

"But Parnas is worth paying attention to because he's shown us, once again, what Trumpism looks like from the inside," concluded Goldberg. "It's part 'The Sopranos' and part, as he put it to Maddow, a 'cult.' The qualities that discredit Parnas are the same ones that let him fit right in."

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