How A Complicated Web Connects 2 Soviet-Born Businessmen With The Impeachment Inquiry

Lev Parnas (left) with Rudy Giuliani Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In July 2018, Potter’s group alerted the FEC about possible campaign violations by Parnas and Fruman.

And then — silence.

One part of the plan that Parnas and Fruman described at the meeting was to replace the head of Ukraine’s state gas company. Another part was to replace the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

The effort to remove Yovanovitch is key to Congress’ impeachment inquiry. Trump called Yovanovitch “bad news.” She had a history of fighting corruption in Ukraine.

“When two or three or four businesspeople can go out and see to it that a U.S. ambassador is removed from her post when she’s doing a fabulous, fantastic, excellent job, there is a serious problem with our form of governance,” Perry says.

John Dowd, who was formerly a personal attorney for Trump, is representing Parnas and Fruman. He declined to speak with NPR for this story.

“Mayor Giuliani is a very dear friend of mine, yes,” Parnas said.

“We actually met with the mayor on a business transaction about a company that I own back in the days. And the business didn’t work out. But we just became good friends and started spending a lot of time together,” Parnas said.

That company was named Fraud Guarantee.

Giuliani told Reuters that Fraud Guarantee paid him half a million dollars for consulting and legal advice. And Parnas says he and Giuliani also worked closely in Ukraine.

Parnas helped arrange and sat in on meetings between Giuliani and several prominent Ukrainians who promised dirt on Democratic opponents and have since come up in the impeachment inquiry. But Parnas told NPR that he wasn’t going to comment on what was discussed in those meetings.

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