Next to an asterisk, Parnas had scribbled, “get Zalenksy [sic] to Annouce [sic] that the Biden case will be Investigated.”
“You don’t write the crime down, you dummy,” Colbert said, throwing up his arms in mock frustration. He later joked, “It didn’t help that the next note was ‘Leave paper trail of impeachable offenses’ and ‘Steal Ritz-Carlton stationery.’ ”
The note is just one piece of documentation in a trove of materials Parnas supplied Congress that exposes new details about the efforts of Giuliani and his associates to dig up dirt on former vice president Joe Biden.
House Democrats released the collection of text messages and documents late Tuesday, just days ahead of Trump’s impeachment trial opening in the Senate. Their contents have already been described as “ridiculously incriminating” and a “bombshell.”
On Wednesday, hundreds more pages were made public by the House Intelligence Committee.
But for Colbert and his fellow late-night hosts, this week’s cache served a different purpose: providing the comics with ample fodder to tear into the apparent bumbling nature of Giuliani’s shadow Ukraine campaign, which is now at the center of Trump’s impeachment.
“When it comes to Trump crime, the scale goes, ‘incriminating,’ ‘very incriminating,’ ‘ridiculously incriminating’ and ‘Rudy on merlot,’ ” Colbert quipped.
Comedy Central host Trevor Noah was equally bewildered by the Parnas documents, specifically a May 2019 letter from Giuliani, in which he requested a meeting with Ukraine’s then-President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky, specifying that he was acting with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
“Seriously? They wrote down the plot of their crime and then kept it?” an incredulous Noah asked. “That is a literal paper trail. Why would you do that?”
“Only Donald Trump would hire henchmen who are also into scrapbooking,” Noah said. “They’re like a bunch of criminal Martha Stewarts — also known as Martha Stewart.”
The materials provided by Parnas, who has pleaded not guilty to federal campaign finance charges, included pages of text messages and handwritten notes documenting his involvement in successful efforts to have Marie Yovanovitch fired as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The texts largely captured conversations between Parnas and his associate, Robert F. Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate from Connecticut who is the newest player to emerge in the unfolding drama. In messages, Hyde repeatedly called Yovanovitch a “b----” and suggested that he had her under surveillance in Ukraine.
“Please spell-check your hateful misogynist threats,” Colbert said after reading one of Hyde’s texts in which the Republican candidate misspelled Trump’s name as “Trumo.”
“You sound dumber than ‘Trumo,' ” Colbert said.
Describing one of the documents as a “crime to-do list,” the host said Parnas had written, “Do my ‘magic’ and cut a deal.”
“He calls committing crimes, ‘Doing my magic?’ ” Colbert said, before speaking as Parnas: “'Believe me, when I do my magic people disappear. Abra-cadaver, ta-dead!”
On NBC, Seth Meyers also offered a blunt assessment of Parnas and Hyde’s ability to be “criminals.”
“These guys are a lot dumber than the criminals on TV,” Meyers said. “Those criminals are always using burner phones and switching cars, meeting in back alleys. In real life, these guys were texting each other and putting up posters on telephone poles that said, ‘Looking for thugs to do crimes. This is for Trump as citizen, not as president. He is my friend. Here is picture of us.’”
Meanwhile, Parnas was implicating the president and Vice President Pence in an explosive interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that aired Wednesday night. The sit-down was broadcast not long after House Democrats released the second collection of materials from Parnas: pages of photos, messages and calendar entries showing how he used his connections within the Trump world to carry out the Ukraine dealings.
In the interview, Parnas asserted that “President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” adding, “He was aware of all my movements.” Parnas also claimed that Pence knew about the efforts in Ukraine.
Trump has not publicly commented on the materials released this week or Parnas’s MSNBC appearance. But by late Wednesday, the interview had gone viral, with some suggesting wishfully that it could mark the beginning of the end of the Trump administration. Soon, “President Pelosi,” referencing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was trending on Twitter.
“Just finished [Maddow’s] interview,” one person tweeted. “So what time does President Pelosi take the oath of office?