Ukraine and the fine hand of George Soros

There was a missing person in yesterday's testimony in the "impeachment inquiry": George Soros.  One person who noticed was Joe DiGenova, who brought up the involvement of the Hungarian-born billionaire yesterday on Lou Dobbs's Fox Business Network show, only to be attacked viciously for daring to mention Him Who Must Not Be Named, on Mediaite by Reed Richardson, who called it a "bonkers conspiracy."

The husband-and-wife Trump defense team of Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing appeared on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight to push an outlandish conspiracy theory about Ukraine, baselessly alleging that left-wing billionaire George Soros "controls a large part of the foreign service part of the State Department and the activities of FBI agents overseas."

Photo credit: Nicolo Caranti.

Here's what was said:

Transcript via Grabien:

Lou: Let's go to Ukraine. Rudy Giuliani, I love the fact he's defending the president in an op-ed. All the work he has done. I hear all the testimony today at least from those who want to quiet him and quiet the president, and try to state that they think this is outrageous that people should have truth and justice in far away places like sue crane. Crane — places like Ukraine. What do you think, Victoria?
>> That what Rudy Giuliani has been doing since he has begun representing the president. He called me earlier this year to tell me what he discovered about Ukraine. He was told that these people in Ukraine were working to frame the president. You. Our sweet Ambassador told everyone not to talk to us, and so did George kernt. Kernt — George Kent. He flew into Kiev to do that.

Lou: As I watch and I'm thinking, I am going to give them credit for being well intentioned public servants. But for all the world it was because they weren't in the special super duper irregular chain and no one patted them on the back or had a sip of tea with them. That's what they seemed upset about. It was outrageous to me that they have this sort of petty reaction to not being in the regular chain as well as the irregular chain. And it didn't seem either were too disturbed by it. George Kent is a separate issue. His motives seem peculiar to me. John Solomon reported in March that George Kent pressured Ukrainian investigators to back off an investigation from the anti-corruption center that George Soros group sponsored. This is a complicated deal here. And it seems he wanted to keep an investigation of Ukrainian corruption with limits on it, even as he answered questions today.
>> There is no doubt that George Soros controls a large part of the foreign service part of the State Department and the activities of FBI agents overseas who work with ngos. That was very effort in Ukraine. Kent was part of that. He was a big protector of Soros. His testimony today shows his stern kind of discomfort with not being included in certain discussions. But George Soros had a daily opportunity to tell the State Department through Victoria Newland what to do in the Ukraine. Soros ran it. He corrupted FBI officials and foreign service officers. George Soros wants to run Ukraine and he's doing everything he can to use every lever of the United States government for business purposes.
>> His organization is anti-competitive. It goes after people who compete with George Soros in the name of anticorruption.

Lou: It was quite a moment in which he walked right up to the boundary but wouldn't say this should be a comprehensive investigation of these activities that of course is precisely what the president of the United States made clear to president zelensky that he wanted, bringing in the U.S. Justice Department to work with the Ukrainian authorities and government.

[emphasis added]

John Solomon yesterday published further information about Soros, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, and "foreign influence in elections" in a piece titled "The real Ukraine controversy: an activist U.S. embassy and its adherence to the Geneva Convention."

Key Soros-related excerpts (you should read the whole thing):

I had focused months of reporting on Ukraine on the U.S. government's relationship with a Ukraine nonprofit called the AntiCorruption Action Centre, which was jointly funded by liberal megadonor George Soros' charity and the State Department. I even sent a list of questions to that nonprofit all the way back in October 2018. It never answered.

Given that Soros spent millions trying to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump in 2016, I thought it was a legitimate public policy question to ask whether a State Department that is supposed to be politically neutral should be in joint business with a partisan figure's nonprofit entity.

State officials confirmed that Soros' foundation and the U.S. embassy jointly funded the AntiCorruption Action Centre, and that Soros' vocal role in Ukraine as an anticorruption voice afforded him unique access to the State Department, including in 2016 to the top official on Ukraine policy, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. (That access was confirmed in documents later released under FOIA to Citizens United.)

Soros' representatives separately confirmed to me that the Anti-Corruption Action Centre was the leading tip of the spear for a strategy Team Soros devised in 2014 to fight corruption in Ukraine and that might open the door for his possible business investment of $1 billion. You can read the Ukraine strategy document here and Soros' plan to invest $1 billion in Ukraine here. [snip]

George Kent, the embassy's charge d'affaires in 2016 and now a deputy assistant secretary of state, confirmed in impeachment testimony that he personally signed the April 2016 letter demanding Ukraine drop the case against the Anti-Corruption Action Centre.

He also testified he was aware of pressure the U.S. embassy also applied on Ukraine prosecutors to drop investigations against a journalist named Vitali Shabunin, a parliamentary member named Sergey Leschenko and a senior law enforcement official named Artem Sytnyk.

Shabunin helped for the AntiCorruption Action Centre that Soros funded, and Leschenko and Sytnyk were criticized by a Ukrainian court for interfering in the 2016 US election by improperly releasing or publicizing secret evidence in an ongoing case against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

It's worth letting Kent's testimony speak for itself. "As a matter of conversation that U.S officials had with Ukrainian officials in sharing our concern about the direction of governance and the approach, harassment of civil society activists, including Mr. Shabunin, was one of the issues we raised," Kent testified.

As for Sytnyk, the head of the NABU anticorruption police, Kent addded: "We warned both Lutsenko and others that efforts to destroy NABU as an organization, including opening up investigations of Sytnyk, threatened to unravel a key component of our anti-corruption cooperation."

As the story of the U.S. embassy's pressure spread, a new controversy erupted. A Ukrainian news outlet claimed Lutsenko recanted his claim about the "do-not-prosecute" list. I called Lutsenko and he denied recanting or even changing his story. He gave me this very detailed response standing by his statements.

But American officials and news media eager to discredit my reporting piled on, many quoting the Ukrainian outlet without ever contacting Lutsenko to see if it was true. One of the American outlets that did contact Lutsenko, the New York Times, belatedly disclosed today that Lutsenko told it, like he told me, that he stood by his allegation that the ambassador had provided him names of people and groups she did not want to be targeted by prosecutors. You can read that here.

It is neither a conspiracy theory nor a debunked or retracted story. U.S. embassy officials DID apply pressure to try to stop Ukrainian prosecutors from pursuing certain cases.

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