ICYMI: ‘Thoughts and prayers’ for Giuliani, plus Fox News doesn’t identify as ‘Swiftie’

Lauren Boebert utterly humiliated in Colorado straw poll 

Everything about this is so deeply satisfying. 

What goes around comes around: Bankrupt Rudy Giuliani claims Trump owes him money

The former New York mayor’s finances have been revealed and hot mess doesn't even begin to cover it.

E. Jean Carroll suggests she'll use the $83 million to create 'something Donald Trump hates'

This is fantastic! Bonus: Read why other conservatives appear to be sweating this judgment.

Cartoon: What's in Trump's box?

Hint: It’s not votes.

Fox News loses it over Taylor Swift

She did the impossible! She got the network to cover climate change.

Republicans admit impeaching Mayorkas is all politics

They are really out here spilling the beans to right-wing media. 

Florida GOP wants to block heat protection for workers. Good thing it's never hot there

That Florida legislators are moving to outlaw something that doesn’t exist might seem odd, even for Florida. But, of course, there’s more to the story.

Team Biden targets Trump on his tax cuts for the rich

A new line of attack is developing, one that the Biden campaign hopes will make it to discussion at your kitchen table. 

Watch Kari Lake get booed at GOP meeting after 'leaked' tape scandal

You hate to see it!

House GOP wages war with itself, the Senate, and reality

Infighting between the House and the Senate is a growing sh*t show and a huge reason nothing gets done.

X pauses some Taylor Swift searches as deepfake explicit images spread

Deepfake tools are a growing problem and they are “overwhelmingly weaponized against women.”

Santos' would-be GOP successor also has a problem with the truth

Congress just got rid of one pathological liar this session, and is now in danger of having that vacated seat filled by someone who also has a tenuous relationship with the truth.

Click here to see more cartoons.

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Feds raided Rudy Giuliani’s home and office in 2021 over Ukraine suspicions, unsealed papers show

A 2021 federal raid on Rudy Giuliani’s home and office was spurred by suspicions that the former New York City mayor had sought the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine partly because of the prospect of a financial reward from a Ukrainian official, according to documents made public Tuesday.

The documents provide new detail on the since-concluded investigation into Giuliani’s involvement with Ukrainian figures in the run up to the 2020 presidential election. Giuliani, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was not charged with a crime as a result of the inquiry.

In a search warrant application, federal agents seeking to seize Giuliani’s cell phones, laptop and other electronic devices raised the possibility that he and three other people could be charged with acting as unregistered foreign agents.

The documents, unsealed at the request of The New York Times and dating to the weeks before the raids, confirmed past news reports that federal prosecutors in Manhattan were examining whether Giuliani had gotten anything of value from Ukrainian figures in return for lobbying the Trump administration to fire then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

The search warrant application said that Giuliani had been “incentivized” to lobby for the ambassador’s removal in two ways.

First, it said, Yuriy Lutsenko, the prosecutor general in Ukraine who wanted the ambassador fired, had offered to hire Giuliani to lobby the Trump administration for help recovering Ukrainian assets he believed had been misappropriated by a U.S. investment firm.

“As discussed below, Giuliani was interested in being engaged to do that work, and proposed a retainer with a $200,000 upfront payment. Thus, it appears that Giuliani took steps to cause the firing of the Ambassador to prove to what he could achieve in order to, among other things, secure the legal representation,” the search warrant said.

Secondly, the application said, Giuliani wanted Lutsenko’s help launching an investigation that might hurt Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Both Lutsenko and Giuliani have previously denied there was anything inappropriate about their interactions.

Prosecutors noted that the proposed $200,000 retainer was never paid. Giuliani has said he also never lobbied the Trump administration on Lutsenko's behalf.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Giuliani's spokesperson.

In November 2022, federal prosecutors revealed in a letter to a federal judge that Giuliani would not face criminal charges over his interactions with Ukrainian figures before the 2020 presidential election.

“Based on information currently available to the Government, criminal charges are not forthcoming,” they wrote. They said the grand jury probe that led to the seizure of Giuliani’s electronic devices had concluded.

Giuliani tweeted soon afterward that it was a “COMPLETE & TOTAL VINDICATION.”

The contours of the investigation were broadly known even before its conclusion, but details of what evidence prosecutors were acting on when they sought to search Giuliani had not been revealed.

The Times wrote to the judge in October seeking copies of the search warrants, warrant applications, supporting affidavits and other documents.

Giuliani consented to releasing the search warrant documents, according to U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken’s order unsealing them.

The documents contained numerous redactions, with many names and other identifying information blacked out. Trump’s name appeared in the documents more than two-dozen times, mainly pertaining to Giuliani’s alleged lobbying efforts. There was no suggestion that investigators suspected Trump of wrongdoing.

In an affidavit filed with Manhattan federal magistrates to secure search warrants, investigators wrote it appeared Giuliani had been aware of FARA registration requirements for some time and had publicly stated that he believed he was not required to register because he has never lobbied the U.S. government on behalf of his clients.

The disclosure of the search warrant documents comes amid a tangle of recent and ongoing legal challenges for the Republican ex-mayor.

Giuliani was indicted in August in Georgia on charges he acted as Trump’s chief co-conspirator in a plot to subvert Biden’s victory. He was also described as a co-conspirator but not charged in special counsel Jack Smith’s federal election interference case against Trump.

Last week, a jury in Washington, D.C. ordered Giuliani to pay $148 million in damages to two former Georgia election workers who sued him for defamation over lies he spread about them in the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss.

The former workers, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman, sued Giuliani again on Monday, alleging he continued to defame them during the trial.

The April 2021 raid on Giuliani's Manhattan apartment and office was seen at the time as a major escalation of the Justice Department’s yearslong investigation of his dealings in Ukraine.

At the same time, agents also served a warrant for a phone belonging to Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, a former federal prosecutor and close ally of Giuliani and Trump. Her law firm said she was informed she was not a target of the investigation. She was not charged.

Giuliani accused federal authorities at the time of “running rough shod over the constitutional rights of anyone involved in, or legally defending" Trump.

Giuliani was central to the then-president’s efforts to press Ukraine for an investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter.

Giuliani also sought to undermine Yovanovitch, who was pushed out on Trump’s orders. He met several times with a Ukrainian lawmaker who released edited recordings of Biden in an effort to smear him before the election.

Hunter Biden was charged by U.S. authorities in September with federal gun crimes and is scheduled to be arraigned next month on tax charges.

The federal Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people who lobby on behalf of a foreign government or entity to register with the Justice Department.

The once-obscure law, aimed at improving transparency, has received a burst of attention in recent years — particularly during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of foreign election interference, which revealed an array of foreign influence operations in the U.S.

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Sunday Four-Play: Lindsey Graham admits there’s no ‘smoking gun’ in GOP’s fake impeachment push

It’s keenly ironic that House Republicans acted on a raft of sketchy, Rudy Giuliani-exhumed allegations to launch a presidential impeachment inquiry in the very same week that he was ordered to pay $148 million for lying on Donald Trump’s behalf. But that’s the difference between our courts and our Congress. In court, you have to tell the truth.

Of course, every House Republican—to a person—is now doing what Rudy did years ago: Appeasing their ocher overlord by conjuring nonsense in a cynical bid to put the faux stink of corruption on President Joe Biden. We’ll have to wait to find out if those congressional fiends eventually get their comeuppance. In the meantime, we’ve got Sunday show clips! So let’s get on with it, shall we?


It’s been glaringly obvious for some time now why House Republicans are trying to impeach President Biden: It’s because Donald Trump wants them to. They’re wholly in thrall to a lifelong punchline who steals top secret government documents and sounds like Hitler slipped on the basement stairs and can’t get up. 

Fortunately, some still see the current Republican Party for what it truly is: a pathetic cult of personality.

Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen appeared on “The Katie Phang Show” to discuss the GOP’s fake Biden impeachment, and he very quickly got to the crux of the matter.

.@RepCohen on Speaker Mike Johnson's baseless Biden impeachment inquiry: "He went down to see his daddy Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago and he told him: 'Go back to Washington and impeach Joe Biden.' [...] This is juvenile." #katiephangshow pic.twitter.com/4cN99NgaUW

— The Katie Phang Show (@katiephangshow) December 17, 2023

PHANG: “Let’s start first … with the absurd impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Republicans on three House committees have been investigating President Biden and his son for months now with zero evidence of wrongdoing being discovered. Can you share with our viewers why there was a unanimous vote by House Republicans? Did you hear anything from your Republican colleagues on why they would do, across straight party lines, a vote in favor of this baseless inquiry?”

COHEN: “Totally political. Unfortunately, we have a child speaker. He went down to see his daddy, Donald Trump, at Mar-a-Lago, and he told him, ‘Go back to Washington and impeach Joe Biden. That will make me feel good because I was impeached twice, and I want to say he was impeached, too.’ So this is juvenile. It’s unfortunately an inexperienced speaker who’s dealing with an irrational man, and the Republican Party basically is responding to that as well. The MAGA Republicans do what Trump tells them to. So they’re going to do that, and they’re doing that with Ukraine, too. To keep his deal going with Putin that was so successful, him getting elected president, that he’s … [he doesn't want] to give Ukraine any money because he wants Putin to win the war and he wants Putin to help him in 2024. Trump’s looking at 2024 and Putin’s looking at posterity, and working together.”

Wow, that sure makes Republicans sound cynical and soulless, doesn’t it? But when you’re right, you’re right. And Rep. Cohen is most definitely right.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: The fake Biden impeachment rolls along, and J.D. Vance forgets Mike Johnson exists


If anyone knows about selling his soul to appease Trump, it’s Sen. Lindsey Graham. So it’s particularly noteworthy that even he can’t figure out what House Republicans are impeaching Biden over.

Graham joined Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” and was asked to weigh in on the GOP’s disingenuous impeachment push. It looked like he would have preferred to discuss just about anything else.  

WELKER: Grassley said he does not see any evidence that the president is guilty of anything. Do you agree with him? LINDSEY GRAHAM: If there was a smoking gun I think we'd be talking about it. pic.twitter.com/pBESdm7HML

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 17, 2023

WELKER: “Okay, let’s turn to the other big story on Capitol Hill, the impeachment, of course—the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Your colleague Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said that he does not see any evidence, quote, that the president is guilty of anything. Do you agree with him? Is there any evidence so far?”

GRAHAM: “You know, I haven’t really been paying that much attention to it. They have to prove that President Biden somehow financially benefited from the business enterprises of Hunter Biden. We’ll see.”

WELKER: “Have they done it yet, in your mind?”

GRAHAM: “If there were a smoking gun, I think we’d be talking about it ...”

Look, it was obvious from the outset that Republicans would try to impeach Biden for something. But this is really a stretch—particularly since Trump continually took money from foreign interests while he was cosplaying as president, and did so out in the open.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: DeSantis-bot glitches out, and ex-Trump aide says the former guy is 'slowing down'


Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tells the truth on exactly one topic: Donald Trump. And he didn’t start doing that until Trump decided he’d try to garrote American democracy. He was fine with Happy Meal Hitler trying to kill him and turning our country into a WWE cage match, but lying about the election and trying to overthrow the government were the final straws. Which is good, of course. He’s ahead of the curve as far as Republicans go. That said, as the following clip shows, Christie always knew about Trump’s strong affinity for indiscriminate murder enthusiast Vladimir Putin, and he still tried to get Trump reelected.

Go figure.

Christie joined Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” to warn America about Trump’s increasingly authoritarian rhetoric.

.@GovChristie hits Donald Trump for echoing Vladimir Putin’s criticism of American democracy in an interview with @jaketapper. “It's time to send Donald Trump back to Mar-a-Lago permanently.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/yzXNCeYpBB

— State of the Union (@CNNSOTU) December 17, 2023

TAPPER: “Gov. Christie, you just heard Donald Trump approvingly quoting Vladimir Putin about American democracy, about the American legal system, attacking the criminal charges against him and the ‘rottenness’ of the American political system, quote, unquote. What’s your reaction?”

CHRISTIE: “My reaction is that he gets worse and worse by the day, Jake. And voters better start paying attention to exactly what he’s saying. He has always been approving of Putin right from the beginning of his presidency. That was something that he and I had regular arguments about going all the way back to 2017. And the fact is that—Vladimir Putin as an expert on democracy? This is a guy who doesn’t even know what democracy is and, quite frankly, has spent most of his life trying to undercut democracy all over the world, and Donald Trump is citing him as his expert witness that he’s being persecuted and is innocent. Look, this is a guy who just believes ‘woe is me, woe is me, I can’t believe that I got caught.’ But let’s remember something, and everyone needs to know this. It’s not going to be Vladimir Putin on the witness stand in Washington, D.C., this spring. It’s not going to be some left-wing prosecutor making the case. Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, has accepted immunity. I did this for seven years, Jake. The reason he’s accepted immunity is because he has admitted he had committed crimes himself, or he wouldn’t need immunity. And he’s going to testify that Donald Trump committed crimes on his watch—a founder of the Freedom Caucus, his former chief of staff who he called the next James Baker. Donald Trump realizes the walls are closing in. He’s becoming crazier. And now he’s citing Vladimir Putin as a character witness, a guy who’s a murderous thug all around the world. It’s time to send Donald Trump back to Mar-a-Lago permanently.”

Hey, thanks for piping up, Chris! Better late than never, right?

Then again, it’s kind of soothing to hear an ex-prosecutor describe exactly how much legal peril Trump is in these days. Hopefully, at least one of the four criminal cases against Trump sees the light of day before he has a chance to send his tank columns into Fulton County, Georgia.

RELATED: Sunday Four-Play: Biden delivers results, Christie swats at Trump, and Musk tanks Twitter


Speaking of Putin, his American Super PAC—aka the GOP—is doing all it can these days to support his Ukrainian war effort. House Republicans are holding up aid to Ukraine so they can play political games with our southern border—a cynical tactic that could help them get elected, which in turn would help Putin, who would then further interfere in our elections on their behalf, and on and on into infinity. 

Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen joined Jon Karl on ABC’s “This Week” to discuss this ongoing betrayal of our ally on Putin’s behalf. 

“This is a pivotal moment in American leadership and history,” Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen tells @JonKarl as negotiations continue over military assistance for Ukraine. “We need to make sure that we help our Ukrainian friends.” https://t.co/zgTIHOEo7W pic.twitter.com/au87GpxIEZ

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 17, 2023

KARL: “What do you think of this idea of having significant changes to the border tied to funding for Ukraine and Israel? Among the changes that Republicans have been demanding are changes to our asylum laws—making it harder for people to declare asylum, restricting that. And even, you know, Republicans want a return to Remain in Mexico, the policy of the Trump administration, which is ‘ask for asylum before you come to the United States and come after, or if, it’s been granted.’”

VAN HOLLEN: “Well, first of all, I think it’s essential that we provide military assistance to Ukraine. This is a pivotal moment in American leadership and history, and we need to make sure that we help our Ukrainian friends against Putin’s aggression—not just to protect their freedom, but because it would send a terrible signal around the world to our allies who would no longer trust us, and to our adversaries, who would be emboldened if we’re not doing that. In terms of border security, I have to look at the details, and the big question, Jon, is, who’s at the table on the Republican side? I don’t mean the individual, but are they really working with the president to try to get border security? Because the president has proposed historical increases in resources for border security.”

KARL: “And they’re asking for policy changes more than resources.”

VAN HOLLEN: “So we have to look at it, you know.”

Well, Republicans ask for a lot of things. Most of those requests are either disingenuous or downright bonkers. After all, Republicans’ proof that Biden favors open borders is that his administration keeps arresting record numbers of border crossers and sending them back. Try to make sense of that one. 

Meanwhile, comprehensive immigration reform would go a long way toward solving our problems at the border, but Republicans prefer they remain unsolved so Fox News can continue scaring its viewers with caravans of brown people. Because if conservatives can’t frighten people, all they’ve got left is a Hitler See ‘n Say as their putative presidential nominee and undisputed standard-bearer.

But wait! There’s more!

That’s all for now! Note: Sunday Four-Play will be on hiatus next week in honor of my annual holiday sugar coma. Hope to see you all again on the cusp of a new year.

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE.

Ex-prosecutor on Hunter Biden case says GOP falsehoods have led to threats

Lesley Wolf worked in relative obscurity for nearly 16 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, but now the former federal prosecutor says she’s been threatened and harassed after Republicans falsely accused her of going easy on Hunter Biden.

In her prepared opening statement, released to the media, for a closed-door deposition demanded by House Republicans as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, Wolf said:

“My desire to serve my community and my country, such a great source of pride, has recently come at significant cost. As a private person, the once routine and mundane details of my life have become the subject of public interest in an invasive and disturbing manner. Far worse, I have been threatened and harassed, causing me to fear for my own and my family’s safety.”

Her deposition on Thursday came a day after the House, on a party-line vote, formalized the Republican majority’s impeachment inquiry even though they haven’t found any evidence that the president benefited from his family’s foreign business dealings or accepted bribes.

Wolf joins the growing list of prosecutors, judges, obscure government officials, election workers, and others who have been targeted and harassed after incurring the wrath of former President Donald Trump and his minions—for merely doing their jobs.

On Friday, a federal jury in Washington awarded $148 million in damages to two former election workers in Georgia—Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss—for the harm caused to them by defamatory statements made against them by disgraced former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani following the 2020 election. 

Wolf’s problems arose simply because she happened to work for Delaware U.S. District Attorney David C. Weiss, a Donald Trump appointee, who first began investigating Hunter Biden’s financial dealings in late 2018. President Biden retained Weiss in his post so that he could continue the investigation of his son.

Wolf was part of the team that initially worked out a plea deal with Hunter Biden on gun and tax charges this summer. Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his 2017 and 2018 taxes on time. He also agreed to terms to avoid prosecution on a felony charge alleging that he falsely asserted that he was sober when he bought a handgun in 2018.

But the plea deal collapsed due to differences over the scope of immunity that Hunter Biden would have received from future investigations. In August, Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel status in the investigation. In September, Weiss’ office indicted Hunter Biden on three felony counts for allegedly illegally purchasing the handgun.

Then, earlier this month, Weiss obtained an indictment from a federal grand jury in California, charging Hunter Biden with nine tax-related criminal charges, including three felony counts. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said his client would not have been indicted if his surname were not Biden.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. And there was nothing in either indictment related to his father.

The president’s son declined to appear for a closed-door deposition in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, holding a press conference outside the Capitol at which he said he would only testify in public—so Republicans couldn’t selectively leak excerpts from his testimony. House Republicans have threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—who himself refused a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 select committee—and other MAGA Republicans still feel that the DOJ has gone easy on Hunter Biden.


Whistleblowers from the IRS’ criminal division claimed in congressional testimony this year that Wolf blocked them from pursuing certain search warrants and generally disagreed with their plans to be more aggressive in investigating the Biden family.

“She limited what they could do in their investigation,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the leaders of the impeachment effort, said on Fox News in June, shortly before requesting a transcribed interview with Wolf and other officials. Jordan subsequently sent Wolf a subpoena.

On Thursday, Wolf joined the ranks of other Justice Department officials who’ve said that politics had nothing to do with their decisions in the Hunter Biden case.

After the hearing, Jordan complained to reporters that Wolf had refused to answer most of the questions she was asked during the deposition., NBC News reported.

But in her prepared opening statement, Wolf broadly defended her work and said she was bound by DOJ policies not to discuss an ongoing investigation.

“At all times while serving as an AUSA, I acted consistently with the Justice Manual, DOJ policy directives, and my statutory/legal and ethical obligations. I followed the facts where they led, and made decisions in the best interests of the investigation. This includes, but is by no means limited to, policies and rules governing politically sensitive investigations, election year sensitivities, attorney search warrants, search warrant filter requirements, and professional conduct rules barring contact with represented parties.”

Wolf also revealed that she had recently left her post as a federal prosecutor, but said her decision “was long pre-dated and was unconnected to the baseless allegations against me.” She said she “agreed to stay with the office months longer than planned because of my belief that my family and I were safer when I remained an AUSA.”

Fox News did not mention this in its online story, nor did that story mention the threats Wolf said she has received as a result of the allegations against her. Instead, its story was headlined: “Jordan says former prosecutor who allegedly scuttled Hunter investigation 'refused' to answer questions.”

Rep. Glenn Ivey, a Maryland Democrat, attended the deposition and said that Republicans kept asking Wolf about the Hunter Biden case during the four-hour-plus deposition. Huffpost reported:

“They kept showing her documents and things that they knew that she couldn’t comment on, asking her questions about the ongoing investigation, even though they knew she couldn’t comment on it,” Ivey said in an interview with the outlet.

Ivey does not believe that Republicans deliberately incited harassment against Wolf, but he said it was “irresponsible” for lawmakers to be putting people’s names out in the public to the extent that they have.

“They know at this point that when they put people’s names out there and connect them in these types of investigations, and make suggestions about them being involved in cover-ups and things like that, they know that this is going to be a consequence of that,” Ivey said.

RELATED STORY: Right-wing terrorism fueled by Trump doesn't only focus on Democrats

Weiss voluntarily agreed to respond to the subpoena. She concluded her opening statement by observing all too accurately:

“I have no doubt that after today the threats and harassment and my own fear stemming from them will heighten exponentially. This not only scares me, but as someone who loves this country, it also breaks my heart.  We are living in a day and age where politics and winning seem to be paramount and the truth has become collateral damage.”

ICYMI: Trump catches a legal break, Hunter Biden calls the GOP’s bluff

Judge hits the brakes on Trump’s 2020 election interference trial

Donald Trump has one primary defense his legal team has repeatedly deployed in all his criminal and civil cases throughout his career: delay, delay, delay. On Wednesday, he got another leg up when U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan agreed to pause the 2020 election interference trial while a federal appeals court rules on whether he had presidential immunity and therefore cannot be prosecuted.

On the same day, in a different case, a federal appeals court ruled Donald Trump did not have presidential immunity.

In another election-related Trump case, CNN obtained leaked audio of Kenneth Chesebro’s testimony to Michigan prosecutors. The Trump-aligned attorney seems to be talking to numerous investigators in an all-out effort to avoid a prison term.

Hunter Biden called their bluff

On Wednesday, Hunter Biden did the one thing Republicans didn’t want him to do: He publicly owned up to his mistakes. By Thursday morning, Rep. James Comer turned up on Fox News to crow about the Republican-led vote to move forward with an impeachment inquiry, and he seemed downright depressed about both the lack of evidence against Joe Biden and the new Associated Press reporting on Comer's own history of using a shell corporation.

Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld makes the case that the sham investigation could end up being an early gift to Democrats going into the 2024 campaign cycle.

More top stories

Nothing says desperation like GOP strategists counseling Republicans to support contraception access

Republican strategists have identified a five-alarm fire in their house and are breaking out the squirt guns to deal with it.

Congress wraps for the year, after giving Putin a Christmas gift

Merry Christmas, Mr. Putin, from your friends in the GOP.

Elon Musk plans to open a new university in Austin

From the man who brought us the consumer-grade flamethrower …

Jurors will begin deciding how much Giuliani must pay for lies in a Georgia election workers' case

Rudy Giuliani’s financial well-being is now in the hands of a jury, and it’s not looking good for the former mayor.


More comics.

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Hunter Biden condemns Republican hoax-promoters: A ‘real threat’ to others ‘desperate to get sober’

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden has been the center of uncountably many Republican-crafted conspiracy theories, all of them after Donald Trump came to believe that Biden would be his 2020 general election opponent.

Hunter himself has mostly chosen to remain silent, but this past Thursday, he published an opinion column in USA Today condemning the effects the omnipresent Republican hoaxes might have on other substance abusers fighting to recover.

What troubles me is the demonization of addiction, of human frailty, using me as its avatar and the devastating consequences it has for the millions struggling with addiction, desperate for a way out and being bombarded by the denigrating and near-constant coverage of me and my addiction on Fox News (more airtime than GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis) and in The New York Post (an average of two stories a day over the past year).

The New York Post running two Hunter Biden stories a day for an entire year is evidence of a different sort of addiction. It's not clear why one is considered more disgraceful than the other.

The science of addiction and recovery has made great strides in just the past decade. However, far too few will ever experience the miracle of recovery unless we change the stigma around addiction.

For those of us who live in recovery and for those who love someone in recovery, we know how hard fought our newfound lives are in letting go of the shame and making amends.

The weaponization of my addiction by partisan and craven factions represents a real threat to those desperate to get sober but are afraid of what may await them if they do.

Notably, the younger Biden specifically names some of the worst offenders.

My recent haircut turned into a wild conspiracy to evade drug tests, tabloids steadily splash nude pictures of me on their covers, and even a member of Congress displayed revenge porn of me on national television.

My addiction doesn’t justify Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui posting altered nude photos of me with “editorial creativity over the pictures.” My addiction shouldn’t permit the likes of Rudy Giuliani or a former Peter Navarro aide to debase and dehumanize me for their own gains.

What Hunter Biden doesn't mention is that the hoaxes Republicans have imposed on him have the strong stench of criminal behavior—and not on his part. Trump's first impeachment came about because Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the Ukrainian president into announcing a supposed "investigation" of a Rudy Giuliani-pushed hoax targeting Hunter. The hoax was debunked before Trump ever made the move, but the extortion attempt continued anyway.

When Giuliani and other Republican operatives later announced they were in possession of stolen data they claimed came from a Hunter-owned "laptop," it became the focus of a new ecosystem of hoaxes and conspiracy claims. But it now appears far more likely that the leaked data was obtained through criminal hacking efforts—and that the "laptop" itself never existed.


James Comer discovers another smoking water pistol

There is no laptop: Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani

Fox News host did not expect his Biden conspiracy to get blown apart on live TV

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Prosecutors probe whether Giuliani was drunk when advising Trump. Does it even matter?

The New York Times and other outlets are reporting that federal prosecutors are taking a very close look at Rudy Giuliani's alleged drinking problems as they seek to prosecute Donald Trump for his illegal acts to nullify his 2020 presidential election loss. From the Times:

The office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, has questioned witnesses about Mr. Giuliani’s alcohol consumption as he was advising Mr. Trump, including on election night, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Smith’s investigators have also asked about Mr. Trump’s level of awareness of his lawyer’s drinking as they worked to overturn the election and prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from being certified as the 2020 winner at almost any cost.

Whether Giuliani was notably, speech-slurringly drunk during the times he was offering advice to Trump on how to contest the election's outcome may go a long way in scrubbing out Trump's claims that he was only acting on the advice of counsel when he undertook those illegal acts. If Trump was aware that his alleged lawyer was Barney Gumble drunk during the conversations where Rudy was pushing bizarre election conspiracy theories and offering, the pair now claims, attorney-client advice on how to pursue them, then Trump could hardly claim he was a naive victim blindly following that advice. It would show that Trump ought to have understood from the beginning that he was listening to the ramblings of an impaired man.

Personally, I'm not seeing it. Trump had been using Giuliani to source and publicize a mountain of utterly crackpot conspiracy theories throughout the election. It was evident even by 2019 that Giuliani's claims ranged from sloppy factual blunders to obvious disinformation attempts to full-on fictions. After the Robert Mueller-led probe of Russian election interference concluded in 2019, Giuliani began insisting that the election had actually been interfered with by "Hillary [Clinton], [John] Kerry and Biden people colluding with Ukrainian operatives."

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One of the most bizarre of all Giuliani-pushed conspiracy claims was that Ukraine was actually the nation behind the hacks of Democratic National Committee servers, and that Russia had been framed by Ukrainian or American officials. Giuliani believed a Democratic National Committee server had been spirited to and hidden somewhere in Ukraine by the DNC themselves, their cybersecurity firm, or someone else.

Not only did Trump willingly believe it, he believed it enough to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate "the server" during the extortion-laden call that resulted in Trump's first impeachment.

Whether or not Rudy Giuliani was or wasn't sloshed enough to be an explosion hazard during this time seems hardly relevant; the man was transparently out of his gourd. He was spouting incoherent, looneytoons fictions long, long before election night, and not only was the national press awash with explanations of just how nonsensical and fraudulent Giuliani's claims were, Trump suffered through an actual bonafide impeachment as a direct result of believing Giuliani's delusional crap.

That would seem to suggest that Trump had every possible opportunity to realize Giuliani was giving him advice that was snow-globe-brain, television-static bonkers long before Giuliani was offering up advice on how to overturn an American election. Yes, it's possible that Giuliani was drunk the whole time; at best, that might show that a sober Trump is still stupider than a stumble-drunk Rudy.

Most of the Times story centers on the apparently widespread knowledge among Giuliani's peers and allies that he has had a devastating drinking problem for "more than a decade." "His consistent, conspicuous intoxication often startled his company," we are told a few years too late to do anyone any good, with "almost anyone in proximity" realizing that his drinking "has been the pulsing drumbeat punctuating his descent." But even then, half the article is devoted to how supposedly grand Giuliani was in his 9/11-punctuated heyday. It appears we will never be free of the hagiographies that have always brushed aside Giuliani's many past scandals in favor of a generic supposed heroism.

As for whether Giuliani was visibly and odiously drunk when he advised Trump to contest the election based on no evidence at all, though, it does appear to be true. The Times, again:

In interviews and in testimony to Congress, several people at the White House on election night — the evening when Mr. Giuliani urged Mr. Trump to declare victory despite the results — have said that the former mayor appeared to be drunk, slurring and carrying an odor of alcohol.

So there you go. It still seems to me that it hardly matters: Was it Drunk Rudy who called a vital press conference at the concrete driveway of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, or Sober Rudy? Was it Drunk Rudy who mistook some unknown substance for hair dye before rushing out to the press for a different press conference, or Sober Rudy?

I don't think we need to hold a match in front of his mouth to judge whether or not the man's judgment has been impaired these past few years. Trump may claim that he only did criminal things because his lawyers told him to, but it doesn't hold up when Trump chose those lawyers specifically because his White House legal team, Department of Justice legal team, and everyone else with common sense weren't willing to go along with plainly criminal acts like "seize the voting machines," "have Mike Pence declare you the winner by fiat," and "impose martial law."


There is no laptop: Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani

New book alleges Trump's ex-chief of staff's suits smelled 'like a bonfire' from burning papers

Lawyers indicted with Trump say they were doing their jobs. But that may be a tough argument to make

The sad, sordid legacy of Rudy Giuliani

On Monday, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was sued by his own attorney over unpaid bills. It’s just the latest tumble in an avalanche of shame that began with one simple action: Giuliani signed on to try to keep Donald Trump in office, no matter what.

For Giuliani, his prolonged self-abasement has meant multiple trips to meet with pro-Russian politicians and oligarchs with the help of convicted foreign agents. It has meant accidentally scheduling a major press briefing outside a landscaping service. It has meant endless public and private indignities. It has meant nearly losing his license to practice law. Most of all, it has meant years of toadying to Trump, only to end up broke, humiliated, and begging for help.

As The New York Times puts it, “He has seen a remarkable reversal of fortunes since going to work for Mr. Trump.”

When Giuliani first went to Ukraine in May 2019, he brought back a story claiming that then-candidate Joe Biden had helped to sack a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to protect his son Hunter. It took just 10 days to show that everything Giuliani was saying was a lie, which hasn’t stopped Republicans from using these claims as the basis of their effort to impeach President Biden four years later.

At first, Giuliani claimed to have made the trips to Ukraine on his own, with the kind help of a pair of guides who not only worked for a pro-Russian oligarch, but who were arrested and eventually pleaded guilty for their role in funneling foreign funds to U.S. politicians.

What the collection of crooks and Russia supporters who were feeding stories to Giuliani wanted was the removal of a U.S. ambassador who was interfering with their criminal schemes. They got what they wanted. But what Giuliani got out of it was the first of many criminal investigations.

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All through 2019, Trump denied that he had been behind Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine. It was only in February 2020, with his impeachment over events in Ukraine safely in the rearview, that Trump went on a podcast hosted by Geraldo Rivera to brag that he had been giving Giuliani his marching orders all along. “Other presidents had them,” Trump said in defense of using Giuliani as his personal tool in trying to extort a foreign nation for evidence against a political opponent. “FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, he was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers.”

None of them had lawyers like Giuliani. Because the ex-mayor didn’t let a little thing like being turned into a Russian intelligence asset get in his way. He made his own extortion call to Ukraine and continued to make trips to eastern Europe, meeting with increasingly low-level figures who were eager to get in on the scam, and produce increasing ludicrous claims—including the time Giuliani said that 92-year-old George Soros had personally tried to kill him on an airport tarmac.

A few months later, the former mayor was back in front of the cameras waving around a water-soaked laptop that he claimed belonged to Hunter Biden. That laptop, which according to Giuliani contained images of cocaine-fueled sex, was conveniently handed to him by a Delaware computer shop owner just weeks before the 2020 election.

What was actually on the laptop, and how it relates to any of the supposed contents released to the public—from Marjorie Taylor Greene’s revenge-porn stunt to the financial information posted online by a former Trump White House aide—remains unclear. Much of what has been posted in public may never have been on the laptop at all.

Even so, the two items that are at the heart of everything Republicans in Congress are doing today in their “impeachment inquiry”—the fabricated story of Biden’s role in Ukraine, and Hunter Biden’s stolen laptop—are both gifts provided to them by Giuliani.

And that was before Giuliani got down to his main task: helping Trump in his attempted coup. For months, Giuliani was there at every step. He was there for dozens of failed lawsuits, for an endless stream of false claims, and for a defamatory attack on campaign workers that led to Giuliani reluctantly admitting that he lied.

That admission came the same week that Giuliani became one of 18 co-defendants in the racketeering indictment handed up by a Georgia grand jury. In that indictment, Giuliani matches Trump in the total number of charges he is facing. The 13 charges against the disgraced attorney include: violations of Georgia’s RICO Act; making multiple false statements to investigators; multiple attempts to convince public officials to violate their oath; and a line of conspiracies involving forgery, impersonating a public official, and filing false documents. One of those counts involves a presentation Giuliani made to the Georgia Senate in which he repeated the claims against campaign workers that he has already admitted were a lie.

Conviction on any one of those charges could see the 79-year-old former prosecutor spend the rest of his life behind bars. Which seems like a pretty bad end for someone whose biggest claim to fame was that he started off using the RICO Act against mobsters.

Hair dye? Mascara? Shoe polish? Does it really matter?

That’s not even mentioning the endless public embarrassment—like this New York Times article, in which multiple experts weigh in on the nature of the black stuff dripping down the side of Giuliani’s face during one particularly sweaty press conference.

In the course of working for Trump, Giuliani has run up not just a fat stack of criminal charges but also a whopping pile of legal bills. That’s one inconvenient thing about violating the law repeatedly: It often means repeatedly needing to hire a lawyer. That rising stack of bills required Giuliani to go begging to Trump in an effort to get some of his debt paid down. However, as CNN reported last month, Trump responded in exactly the way one might expect when Giuliani tried to convince him that it was in Trump’s own interest to cover Giuliani’s seven-figure legal bills.

But the former president, who is notoriously strict about dipping into his own coffers, didn’t seem very interested. After Costello made his pitch, Trump verbally agreed to help with some of Giuliani’s legal bills without committing to any specific amount or timeline.

Trump’s hey, sure, I’ll do something, sometime, eventually morphed into what was reportedly a $100,000-per-plate fundraiser for the man who brought home the Ukraine lie, Hunter Biden’s laptop, and that memorable briefing at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Guiliani’s son claimed that the fundraiser was expected to raise “at least $1 million,” indicating that at least 10 people would show up. But there seems to be no post-event recap announcing the actual take.

Considering that Giuliani’s attorney says he only paid $214,000 of his $1.36 million debt in a lawsuit filed a week after the fundraiser … does that mean only two people showed up? It’s certain that Trump wasn’t cutting a check, and it wouldn’t have made any sense for Giuliani to pay. So perhaps there was an extremely uncomfortable foursome staring at each other across a very small table at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf property? Did they at least get in 18 holes while they were there?

The truth is that Rudy Giuliani was never a great man. Or even a good one. His record as a mayor was one of police violence, general incompetence, personal indulgence, taking credit for others’ actions, and getting tossed from Gracie Mansion after cheating on his second wife. That he was on hand to feature in bullhorn-toting photographs after 9/11 gained him a huge level of undeserved goodwill on which he might have retired as an ersatz saint.

Instead he pitched in his lot with Trump. And how did that go again?

Rudolph W. Giuliani, already under criminal indictment and at risk of losing his law license for his effort to keep Donald J. Trump in office after the 2020 election, is now being sued by his own lawyer.

That’s how Giulaini will be remembered in the future. And that really is all his fault.

Republicans use long-debunked scam to fuel impeachment inquiry

On Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy declared that he was turning three Republican investigations that have already been running since January into “impeachment inquiries” on the basis of … of … well, on the basis of how McCarthy is scared sh--less that the members of his own party might come to collect on all the promises he made to get his big office.

The public could—and has—cheerfully ignored the performance art that three Republican-run committees have been executing with no obvious goal other than to allow them to send out daily fundraising requests that include the phrase “Hunter Biden’s laptop.” People expect Republicans to run pointless inquiries into the same thing over and over again. (See: Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, or the other five investigations into Benghazi.) But an impeachment inquiry seems like it should have at least some tiny scrap of evidence to justify its existence.

It has apparently fallen to Rep. Jim Jordan to provide that scrap. Only what he’s trotting out for the Fox & Friends crowd has a slight problem: It’s all just a scam that blew up on Republicans four years ago.

Here’s what Jordan tried to sell on Fox & Friends as justification for an impeachment inquiry.

”[President Joe Biden] told Ukraine, ‘If you don’t fire the prosecutor, you’re not getting the money.’ That’s exactly what they accused President Trump of doing, which he didn’t do and they impeached him over that. He did it. And he did it — remember, Dec. 4, 2015, Devon Archer and Hunter Biden are meeting with the head of Burisma, Mr. Zlochevsky, and they called D.C. Now, Devon Archer says, ‘I stepped away. I don’t know who they talked to in D.C.’ Now, come on. They called D.C. And then five days later, the vice president of the United States, the current president of the United States, goes to Ukraine and starts the process into getting the prosecutor fired.”

It’s not really possible to feel sorry for Jordan, but it is possible to feel a level of astonishment over just what level of pathetic—patheticness? pathegnosity?—he is willing to reach in order to justify his actions.

To steal the opening from the last two “Spider Man” animated features: Let’s do this one more time.

All of this business about Joe Biden and Burisma goes back to May 2019 and an article that appeared in The New York Times that gave Rudy Giuliani an open mic to make a set of unchallenged claims. Trump immediately picked up those claims and leveled them at then-undeclared candidate Joe Biden. To see just how close they are to what Jordan is saying now, let’s look at what Daily Kos wrote then:

At the heart of the charge Trump is making against Biden is this: Biden’s son Hunter was on the board of an energy company called Burisma Holdings that was targeted by a Ukrainian prosecutor. This prosecutor was one of several figures whom Joe Biden railed against on a trip to Ukraine in which he complained about corruption in the country’s government, including a threat to withhold U.S. funds if Ukraine didn’t clean up its act. In the next election, the prosecutor was voted out, and Ukraine got its funds.

When that was written, on May 2, 2019, there was still some belief that Burisma might have actually benefited from the removal of that prosecutor, whose name was Viktor Shokin. However, just two weeks later, Bloomberg did something that The New York Times apparently never considered: They sent a reporter to Ukraine and checked up on Giuliani’s claims. What they discovered was that not one word held up to the slightest scrutiny.

It turns out that the problem with Shokin was that he wasn’t investigating Burisma, or much of anything else. In fact, as early as 2015, prosecutors in the U.K., who actually were trying to go after both Burisma and Zlochevsky, became convinced that Shokin was actively interfering with that investigation to protect Burisma. British officials didn’t just take their displeasure to the Ukrainian government, they also complained to the U.S.

It was those complaints that caused Joe Biden to include Shokin in a group of officials that the U.S. wanted removed due to suspected corruption, because eliminating corruption in the Ukrainian government was something both the U.K. and the U.S. were actively championing. In getting rid of Shokin, Biden was encouraging investigation of Burisma, but stopping it.

All of this was dutifully walked through during Trump’s first impeachment—an impeachment that happened because Trump tried to blackmail Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into backing up Giuliani’s false claims.

Where did Giuliani’s faux scandal originate? Simple. Donald Trump sent him. It took until February 2020 for Trump to confess this openly, but he admitted sending Giuliani to Ukraine on a Geraldo Rivera podcast. Trump sent Giuliani to Ukraine, not for any purpose to benefit the United States, but explicitly to talk to people who had run out of the government for being too corrupt to cook up something that could be used against Biden, who Trump saw as his biggest electoral threat.

Of course, those corrupt former officials and members of a pro-Russian faction within Ukraine had a price for giving Giuliani the story they wanted: the ouster of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. They wanted Yovanovitch out because she was regarded as both an effective advocate for the U.S. and a tireless fighter against corruption. Giuliani snapped up that deal. He sold Trump on the idea that Yovanovitch had said bad things about him—and that she was standing in the way of creating the narrative Giuliani was trying to create in Ukraine. Just like that, Yovanovitch was gone.

None of this is new. In fact, it’s not just four years old, but every aspect of the story has been covered again, and again, and again. Shokin’s deputy has even admitted that the prosecutor was not investigating Burisma.

Everything that Jordan was babbling about on Fox was sad, false, and ridiculous. Deplorable seems like the right word. But hey, he does seem to have convinced one person.

Tommy Tuberville says that Jim Jordan presented his impeachment “evidence” to him today and, after applying his very unbiased brilliant legal mind to the case, he has (shockingly) determined that it is overwhelming. pic.twitter.com/aQO5l0bu0p

— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) September 13, 2023

What do you do if you're associated with one of the biggest election fraud scandals in recent memory? If you're Republican Mark Harris, you try running for office again! On this week's episode of "The Downballot," we revisit the absolutely wild story of Harris' 2018 campaign for Congress, when one of his consultants orchestrated a conspiracy to illegally collect blank absentee ballots from voters and then had his team fill them out before "casting" them. Officials wound up tossing the results of this almost-stolen election, but now Harris is back with a new bid for the House—and he won't shut up about his last race, even blaming Democrats for the debacle.

Sen. Chuck Grassley put American lives at risk to spread a document he knew was a lie

 Sen. Chuck Grassley released an FBI FD-1023 form related to the Hunter Biden investigation. These forms are not intended to be public documents and it is highly unusual to release them publicly. These are the forms that the FBI uses to “record raw, unverified reporting from confidential human sources.” They do not represent the results of investigations, and “recording this information does not validate it or establish its credibility.”  

These forms are not classified, but they are kept in confidence for a number of reasons that are mostly connected with protecting sources. The FBI has made it clear to Grassley repeatedly that releasing the form would have a negative impact not just on this case, but on every case that depends on confidential human sources.

Grassley released it anyway because he has placed what he sees as a momentary opportunity to hurt President Joe Biden over the needs of the FBI and the good of the nation. More than that, Grassley is doing this to forward a story that he knows is a lie.

The form, which is dated June 2020, claims to be sourced from a businessman who was introduced to leadership at Burisma energy in Ukraine in “late 2015 or early 2016” to help the company find a U.S. company to purchase. During a meeting with Burisma leadership, the source claims that he was told Hunter Biden was put on the company board to "protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.” Asked why it isn’t Hunter doing the job of locating a U.S. form to purchase, he’s told that “Hunter is not that smart.” Finally the source is told by Burisma executive Mykola Zlochevsky that the company has to pay $5 million to Joe Biden and another $5 million to Hunter Biden because they are being investigated by Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, and Burisma needed Biden to “deal with Shokin.”

The story then jumps to a phone call in 2016. Or maybe it was 2017. As with the original meeting, the source can’t recall the year, though he recalls the dialogue word for word. This time Zlochevsky complains that Burisma was forced to pay Biden, using a term that the source describes as “Russian-criminal-slang,” and now that Trump has been elected their investment is worthless. However, Shokin has been fired, so there was no investigation and no one would ever know about the money they paid the Bidens.

Jump forward to 2019 when CHS again meets with Burisma executives and Zlochevsky brags to the source about how clever they were in hiding the payments to Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, and how no one will ever find those payments. According to the source, this is the kind of thing Ukrainian businessmen like to brag about in casual conversation.

Finally, it comes down to this bit where one of the Burisma executives tells the source:

"... he has many text messages and 'recordings' that show he was coerced to make such payments … he had a total of "17 recordings" involving the Bidens; two of the recordings included Joe Biden, and the remaining 15 recordings only Included Hunter Biden. … These recordings evidence Zlochevskiy was somehow coerced into paying the Bidens to ensure Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin was fired.”

If any of this sounds slightly familiar, it’s because it’s the exact story that Rudy Giuliani told to The New York Times in May 2019. In that story, Hunter Biden was placed on the board of Burisma in 2014 not because he was clearly a well-placed American with years of experience in lobbying, investment banking, and corporate governance who might be essential to an energy company looking to expand internationally, but because his father could get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired.

And Shokin was fired in 2016. The Ukrainian parliament voted him out after Joe Biden made it clear that the United States was very concerned about Shokin and might withhold or delay assistance to Ukraine unless he was removed. That’s a real thing. Biden even bragged about it later, telling a group of foreign policy advisers that he confronted the Ukrainian president and demanded Shokin’s firing.

Except the reason that Shokin was fired was because he was not investigating cases of corruption and was instead either turning a blind eye or an outstretched hand when dealing with Ukrainian oligarchs who were making off with billions. Both the U.S. and the U.K. governments had been pressuring Ukraine about Shokin for over a year before Joe Biden’s visit. In fact, the thing that upset the U.K. government most was that Shokin was refusing to investigate one firm in particular: Burisma.

As the head of a Ukrainian anti-corruption organization told Radio Free Europe, Shokin had dumped the investigation of Burisma when he took office.

"Ironically, Joe Biden asked Shokin to leave because the prosecutor failed [to pursue] the Burisma investigation, not because Shokin was tough and active with this case," Kaleniuk said.

When The New York Times ran Giuliani’s version of the story in 2019, it took Bloomberg News just one week to rip it apart.

… at the time Biden made his ultimatum, the probe into the company—Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky—had been long dormant, according to the former official, Vitaliy Kasko.

“There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against Zlochevsky,” Kasko said in an interview last week. “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.”

From the beginning of this whole affair, and in fact from the moment Giuliani set foot in Ukraine, it’s been obvious that in getting Shokin fired Joe Biden wasn’t protecting Burisma, he was taking action that put the company under renewed scrutiny. And in fact prosecutors did reopen their investigation of Burisma, reviewing multiple instances in which Zlochevsky was suspected of crimes.

All of this—all of it—was thoroughly covered just two years ago, including just how Giuliani generated his claims against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden in the first place.

Giuliani made a personal visit to an outgoing prosecutor, tried to convince him to play ball, and even called Trump directly while in the prosecutor’s office so that Trump could explain how excited he was about the “investigation” into Biden. The prosecutor even went so far as to add some new false claims, asserting that Joe Biden personally took a payment to act as an agent of a Ukrainian company.

That moment when Giuliani was making calls directly to the White House from the office of an outgoing official is the genesis of the idea that Joe Biden took some kind of payment from Burisma. Until that moment, it had come up nowhere. From no one.

Over the following months, Giuliani assembled a group of known criminals and former members of the pro-Russian government who had been ousted with the election of Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He found several willing to play along with his growing story, but they had a price: They wanted Trump to get rid of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was too effective in fighting corruption. Trump gave them exactly what they wanted to get his false evidence against Biden, but even in 2019 the holes in the story were so big that the whole scheme was obviously a … scheme.

Now it’s back again and nothing has changed. The document that the FBI held was clearly authored by someone who was part of Giuliani’s plot, and it was clearly Giuliani himself who pointed out this document to Grassley and others. The document contains exactly the same false, easily disproved claims as the story the Times printed up for Giuliani and was obviously written with the sole purpose of providing some faux documentary evidence for the story Giuliani and Trump were pushing at the time. It’s all part of what Trump was trying to get Zelenskyy to say when he made his impeachment-worthy phone call to the Ukrainian leader.

The content of the FD-1023 form is a lie. What’s more, Grassley knows it is a lie. He knows this has all been investigated and found to be baseless accusations. And he knows that releasing this document causes real, genuine harm.

Protecting this type of information from wider disclosure is crucial to our ability to recruit sources and ensure the safety of the source or others mentioned in the reporting. CHSs are critical to cases across all FBI programs—whether it’s violent crime, drug cartels, or terrorism. It would be difficult to effectively recruit these sources if we can’t assure them of their confidentiality. And without these sources, we would not be able to build the cases that are so important to keeping Americans safe.

Grassley was sent a letter reminding him of exactly this issue and asking him expressly to remind everyone involved to keep in mind the importance of keeping these documents secure. Instead, Grassley did the opposite: He published the FD-1023 in blatant defiance of the FBI’s request.

Why did he do it? He did it for the same reason that Republicans had been seeking release of the document all along, and that was because they knew it would generate headlines like this:

Bidens allegedly 'coerced' Burisma CEO to pay them millions to help get Ukraine prosecutor fired: FBI form

Bidens allegedly 'coerced' Burisma CEO to pay them millions to help get Ukraine prosecutor fired: FBI form

Grassley purposely released a document that he knew was a lie for the purpose of attacking Joe Biden even though he knew it would put Americans in danger and damage the FBI’s ability to investigate actual crimes of all sorts.

To gain a moment of political attention, Grassley is creating an immeasurable risk. How can witnesses come to the FBI to make a confidential statement knowing that their identities and claims can be revealed for political expediency by someone who has no real interest in the truth?

There is a genuine broad streak of corruption in this case, and it runs right through Iowa.

Sign the petition: No more spending taxpayer money on frivolous GOP hearings.