Kevin Downing, attorney to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, right, exits the U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. A Ukraine-born ally of Rudy Giuliani was accused by U.S. prosecutors of skirting campaign contribution limits as part of a scheme to oust the American ambassador to Ukraine, an episode now under scrutiny by a congressional committee weighing the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
When it came to their dealings in Ukraine over the last year, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman wore two hats, NBC News reports.
The Florida businessmen were helping President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani set up meetings with high level Ukrainian officials, according to documents obtained by the State Department inspector general. Giuliani has acknowledged that he lobbied those people to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 campaign, in what Democrats say was an effort to uncover dirt on the president’s political enemies.
But Parnas and Fruman were also trying to make money by drumming up a deal to sell liquified natural gas to Ukraine’s big state energy company, and to oust the management at the company with help from their friends in the Trump administration, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The charges filed against the men Thursday allege that their playbook was to pursue political influence as a way of furthering their business interests. That’s exactly what they appeared to be doing with the contributions to a Trump-linked political committee, and their work with Giuliani in Ukraine, according to the two sources.