Trump Prepares for Impeachment Trial After Lev Parnas Bombshell: A Closer Look

January 28, 2020

-As he faces
only the third Senate impeachment trial
in history, the president is desperately
trying soothe his ego and pretend he doesn’t know
the key players in the scandal. For more on this, it’s time for
“A Closer Look.” In the last week,
the impeachment trial against President Trump
has been rocked by a series of
bombshell revelations from one of Trump’s key henchmen
in the Ukraine scandal, Lev Parnas.
Remember him? The guy who looks like a pinata,
but for crimes? The guy who looks like
a Soviet version of the sad-face emoji? [ Laughter ] A man who know, no joke, had a company called
“Fraud Guarantee.” And based on how
things have gone, it turns out
he’s a man of his word. The revelations began
with new evidence released by the House
that included Parnas’ handwritten notes
about Trump’s scheme to force Ukraine to dig up dirt
on Joe Biden. The notes made it
incredibly obvious — in case there was
any doubt before — that Parnas was at the center
of a corrupt plot designed exclusively for
political and financial reasons, and involving several
of Trump’s closest allies. The notes include
incriminating phrases like “Get Zelensky
to announce that the Biden case will be
investigated,” “do my magic and cut deal,”
“get deal done,” “one to three months,” and the ambiguous phrase
“Ukraine ledger.” The only way these notes
could be any more suspicious is if the letters
were cut out from magazines. [ Laughter ] These notes looked like clues
James Bond would find in an underground lair
right before he turns around, and sees Christoph Waltz
dangling Joe Biden above a shark tank. “Ah, James, you’re probably
here to rescue your old chum.” And then, after all of those
notes, there was one other note that referred to Trump’s
personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — the man at the
center of this entire scheme — with just the word “Rudy”
and two asterisks. These guys are so dumb they literally wrote down the
names of their co-conspirators. This is like if Al Cowlings
had put a sticker on the inside of his white
Ford Bronco that said “OJ on board.” [ Laughter ] And yet, as incriminating
as these notes would seem, Trump supporters have gone to
extreme lengths to dismiss them. For instance, Fox host
Laura Ingraham said they were meaningless. -We got these notes of,
like, scribble scrabble on a Ritz-Carlton
Vienna notepad, and we’re supposed
to all think, “Oh, the Democrats
have a smoking gun.” -First of all,
you’re accusing someone else of scribble scrabble? Donald Trump can’t even sign
his own name. If you didn’t know, that is
the president’s signature. If you looked at it
for the first time, you’d be like, “I guess that’s
a prescription for, I don’t know,
Percocet?” Second, these are notes on a
Ritz-Carlton Vienna notepad. The Ritz-Carlton Vienna
sounds like the setting for literally every spy movie
ever made. They probably have tranquillizer
darts in the mini bar. Without looking it up,
I can say for certain there’s at least one
“Mission: Impossible” movie where Tom Cruise parachutes
out of an airplane, and crashes through the windows
of the Ritz-Carlton Vienna. Except, in this sequel,
he crashed through the window in the first five minutes,
and found a note that said, “Here’s our plan,
and how to stop us. The movie is over now.” [ Laughter ] Then, of course, there was
Parnas’ bombshell interview with Rachel Maddow,
where he confirmed all sorts of sordid details,
including the fact that Trump was willing to withhold
all aid to Ukraine unless they
specifically promised to dig up dirt
on Biden. Yet still,
Trump allies in the Senate have basically decided to
pretend it didn’t happen — like Martha McSally,
who made a big show of attacking CNN reporter Manu Raju simply
for asking if she thought the new evidence
offered by Parnas should be included
in the trial. -Senator McSally, should the
Senate consider new evidence as part of
the impeachment trial? -Manu, you’re a liberal hack.
I’m not talking to you. -You’re not gonna comment?
-You’re a liberal hack. -She might as well
have said, “I’d like to speak
to your manager.” This one moment shows
just how deeply and fully the Republican party has become
the party of Donald Trump. All that reporter did
was ask a simple, straightforward question,
and she accused him of bias. I feel like this isn’t
the first time she’s reacted
like that, either. “You know what?
You’re a hack.” “Okay, ma’am, but you still
have to pay for extra guac.” [ Laughter ] And then, of course,
there’s Trump himself, who denied ever knowing Parnas
despite the fact that Trump has had at least 10
separate interactions with him, and has been in multiple
photos with him — a fact Trump brushed off. -What is your response
to Lev Parnas, who said that your efforts in
Ukraine were all about 2020? You just wanted
Joe Biden out. -Well, I don’t know him. I don’t know Parnas,
other than, I guess I had
pictures taken — which do I with thousands
of people. He’s trying to probably
make a deal for himself. I don’t even who
know this man is, other than, I guess
he attended fundraisers, so I take a picture
with him. I’m in a room.
I take pictures with people. I take thousands and thousands
of pictures with people all the time — thousands during course
of a year. -Okay, it’s true that you
have photos with lots of people, but you also have photos
with lots of criminals. You have photos
with Michael Cohen, who’s now in jail,
and Paul Manafort, who’s now in jail,
and Kid Rock, who, at the very least,
should be in fashion jail for those
American-flag pants. Trump is lying
because he knows that he’s only the third
president in history to face a Senate
impeachment trial. His name and presidency will be stained in
the history books forever, regardless of what happens —
which is pretty remarkable given that, just a few years
ago, he was mostly known as the “you’re fired” guy. This is like if the “can you
hear me now” guy got arrested for burning down
a Verizon store. You’d realize, “Oh, now I know
why he switched to Sprint.” No matter how hard Republicans
try to rig the Senate trial to let Trump off easy,
the mark of this historic moment will never go away. And that’s something Trump
is very obviously aware of, because last week,
as the House voted to officially transmit
the articles of impeachment they had passed in December
to the Senate for a trial, Trump freaked out
on Twitter. -He asked “Why should I have
the stigma of impeachment attached to my name
when I did nothing wrong?” -In all caps,
he tweeted, quote, “I just got impeached for making
a perfect phone call.” -I mean,
I wouldn’t worry too much about the stigma
of impeachemnt, because you have so many
other stigmas. I mean, sure, you’re only the third president
to get impeached, but you’re the first one
to bail on an umbrella, and just leave it
outside an airplane. [ Laughter ] I’m gonna remember that more
than the impeachment thing. Second, nothing says
“perfect phone call” like shouting at
the top of your lungs. If you’re someone who tweets
in all caps, you’re not making
perfect phone calls. Besides, we all know
the only perfect phone call is when someone calls you up
to cancel dinner plans. “Oh, my God. We don’t have to
leave the house.” [ Cheers and applause ] “That was [bleep] perfect.” [ Laughter ] And apparently, Trump’s rage
isn’t confined to Twitter. CNN reported over the weekend
that Trump has been shuffling around his chintzy
resort in Palm Beach, grousing to club members
about how unfair it is that he’s facing
an impeachment trial. -A source
close to the White House saying president Trump
has appeared distracted by the impeachment trial, telling people around him
at Mar-a-Logo he can’t understand
why he was impeached. -He is a bit distracted by
the ongoing impeachment saga. He is apparently
asking people around him, “Why are they
doing this to me?” -Donald Trump not knowing
why he is impeached is in itself
an impeachable offense. [ As Trump ] “Why are they
doing this to me?” [ Normal voice ]
“Well, here’s a 300-page
document laying it out.” [ As Trump ] “What? No.
I don’t want to read that. Why? Why won’t they tell me?” [ Cheers and applause ] [ Normal voice ] Senate
Republicans are obviously intent on rigging the trial
as much as they can, but no matter what they do,
the trial itself is a significant, historic
judgment on its own, because in our current
manic news environment, everyone’s memories
are fried, and nothing ever really
seems to stick. Remember when Trump tried to
fire Robert Mueller? Or when his administration made
up a fake terrorist incident called the
“Bowling Green Massacre?” Or when Trump literally shoved
a fellow NATO leader out of the way so he could get
to the front of the group? I mean, look at him. It’s like he heard
there was free food in the conference room. [ Laughter ] He looks like he’s at a wedding,
trying catch the bouquet. [ As Trump ]
“Go away, Melissa. You’ve already been
married twice.” [ Normal voice ] So, knowing
that this historic mark of shame will follow him in the
history books forever, Trump’s been in desperate search
of ways to soothe his ego — so desperate that, at an event
in the Oval Office last week that was meant to promote
prayer in public schools, in front of him,
on the Resolute desk, was a map that appeared
to divide the country into a red-blue map based on
the 2016 election results. Basically, they gave him
that map the way parents give their kids a maze
and crayons at a restaurant. They actually should
give him a maze, but one where
he learns something. [ Laughter ] [ Cheers and applause ] The weirdest part
of this charade was the fact the map
just sat there on the desk, unmentioned,
for the entire event. Trump never
talked about it. It was just there to entertain
him, and make him feel better. They might as well just have it
printed onto a blanket, so he can carry it around
Linus-style. [ Laughter ] Not only was the map
weirdly conspicuous for an event that had nothing
to do with the election, apparently,
it wasn’t even correct. While it appeared
to be very red, an emotionally reassuring symbol
of his popularity, Twitter sleuths
quickly determined it wasn’t
entirely accurate. Some counties
that went for Hillary Clinton were colored red. Trump’s literally just changing
the electoral map to make himself
feel better now. Why not go all the way, and
include the rest of the world? [ As Trump ] “Look, everyone,
I also won Greenland, Turkey, and the Caspian Sea.” Thank you, Caspia. Thank you,
Caspian people.” [ Normal voice ]
So, Trump faked an electoral map
to make himself feel better, and then conspicuously
laid it out on the famous
Resolute desk, hoping people would notice it.
That is insane. It’s like if you went over
to Steven Seagal’s house, and he had a shelf
full of Oscars, except they were just a bunch
of Ken dolls painted gold. “I won this one for ‘Submarine Justice 2:
Operation Killer Seals.'” It’s where I delivered
the famous line, “Hyah!” Trump knows that, ultimately,
in the eyes of history, it won’t matter whether
Republicans successfully rigged his impeachment trial
to let him off the hook. No matter what, he will be only
the third President in history to face such a trial,
and it follows him forever — especially as more damning
evidence emerges. A few years from now,
when they’re asked about where they stood on the
presidency of Donald Trump, I have a feeling a lot of
Republicans will say… -I don’t know him. -This has been
“A Closer Look.”

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