The American ruling class is an appalling mass of corruption, like some hellish combination of scrofula, gangrene, and shingles. And one particularly pestilential boil on the national hindquarters is Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, bag man, and "guy who admits to crimes on cable news."
We learned Friday that two of Giuliani's close associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were trying to flee the country only to be arrested by federal prosecutors. These Soviet-born Americans have allegedly been conducting a conspiracy to evade campaign finance regulation, according to a recently-unsealed indictment. They have also been key figures in Giuliani's attempt to get Ukraine to investigate the Biden family.
That's America's Mayor for you!
The indictment is both a telling window into the rot at the top of the American elite and extremely funny. Parnas, Fruman, and a couple others have been allegedly running around making loads of illegal campaign contributions to support their various political and business efforts — and making comically inept efforts to disguise what they were doing. For instance, they reportedly created a company called Global Energy Producers (GEP) which was supposed to be involved in natural gas, and made made 5- and 6-figure donations to a couple political committees in its name. But they reportedly didn't even bother to route the donations through an actual GEP account, nor give it any actual business of any kind to make it seem other than a shell company.
It probably took all of 10 minutes for federal investigators to unravel this scheme. But Parbas and Fruman still reportedly managed to successfully buy the services of Pete Sessions, then a GOP representative from Texas (who lost in 2018). After Parnas and company donated big sums to Sessions' campaign, he reportedly wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticizing then-ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who ran afoul of Team Trump because she wouldn't help these idiots sic the Ukrainian government on the Biden family, and afoul of Parnas specifically for rejecting a natural gas deal that he attempted to strike with Naftogaz, the state-owned Ukrainian oil and gas company.
Yovanovitch was only a small part of their efforts to mount a political prosecution of the Biden family. Through their company called — get this — Fraud Guarantee, they have reportedly paid Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, as Buzzfeed reports, Parnas and Fruman have been serving as point men in the effort to get Biden, spending tens of thousands of dollars on hotels, restaurants, Ukrainian strip clubs — and of course Trump properties in New York and D.C. — while he was being hounded by creditors in the U.S.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are rightly asking where exactly was all this money coming from. Whoever it wasn't didn't appear to get a great deal, as everyone was getting a little taste of the payola, above all the big wet president himself. Indeed it rather seems that Parnas was a lot more concerned with partying in Kiev than he was actually trying to frame Biden for something. You just can't find honest criminals these days.
Now, the indictment does not mention Giuliani or Trump specifically. But it does show at a minimum what kind of people this administration brings to the forefront of U.S. society. All this is just par for the course in Trump's America — one collection of sloppy, stupid criminal oafs stumbling over the next. Soon, no doubt, we'll be hearing about some birdbrained scheme to get Kazakhstan to investigate the Warren family by bribing local officials with racehorses.
But the rot goes considerably deeper than just Giuliani and his goofball Ukrainian friends. The laws against white-collar crime have become all but a dead letter in recent years, brought down on the one hand by an objectively pro-corruption Supreme Court (because bribery is a constitutive element of conservative politics), and prosecutorial timidity on the other. And when powerful people feel like they can break laws at will, you get a lot of crime — fraud, violence, sexual abuse, and more.
If honest government is to be restored to America, a great many powerful people are going to have to go to prison. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman can be the start (plus whoever else they can be convinced to roll on), but they must not be the last.