Those Soviet-born businessmen–real estate investors Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman–are wanted by various congressional investigators spanning multiple subcommittees in the House over their recent activities in the Ukrainian energy sector and their possible role in the ongoing impeachment drama engulfing the Trump White House.
According to the Miami Herald, their attorney John Dowd–a decades-long fixture among the legal and D.C. elite and Trump’s former legal advisor–said neither will comply with a Monday deadline for documents or appear at depositions scheduled for Thursday and Friday.
“No response planned,” Dowd told the outlet via email.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Parnas and Fruman are Trump mega donors who somehow became aware of key U.S. foreign policy plans months in advance. Namely: Fruman, Parnas and oil billionaire Harry Sargeant III reportedly knew the former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was being fired by Trump months before she was actually given the axe by the 45th president.
The trio also reportedly attempted to use this foreknowledge to their economic advantage by dangling the information and an unprecedented promotion–as well as a potential importation deal–before an executive at the Ukraine’s national gas company Naftogaz.
The whole gas sales plan shebang, the trio claimed, was supported by Trump. And Giuliani’s fingers were all over it as well.
Two months after that “shakedown”-like meeting, Yovanovitch was recalled by Trump. Giuliani later bragged about his key role in the career diplomat’s ouster–telling the Wall Street Journal he convinced the 45th president Yovanovitch harbored “anti-Trump bias.”
Aside from their ill-fated attempt to reshuffle the Naftogaz board, Parnas and Fruman have several other projects in the Ukraine.
According to BuzzFeed News and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Parnas and Fruman were instrumental in convincing Ukrainian authorities to initiate an investigation into whether officials there had worked to help elect Hillary Clinton U.S. president in 2016. Trump later recycled the claims and gave them further credence on national television.
Per that report:
Trump called claims that Ukrainian officials had helped Clinton’s candidacy “big” and “incredible” in an April interview with Fox News, and said that he would leave it to Attorney General William Barr to decide whether to look into them. Barr announced a probe into the origins of the Mueller investigation — in which Manafort’s Ukrainian work became a focus — the following month.
But that’s not all. Parnas and Fruman “introduced Giuliani to three current and former senior Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss the politically damaging information,” according to BuzzFeed and OCCRP.
“I got certain information and I thought it was my duty to hand it over,” Parnas told the Miami Herald on September 26. He also described the impeachment subpoenas as a “headache” and said, “It’s upsetting, being dragged into something like this.”
Aside from that alleged patriotic duty, Parnas has mostly been tight-lipped about the exact contours of his relationship with Giuliani–but he did describe the former New York City mayor as his “friend.”
[image via Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]