When Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, legitimate businessmen and clients of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were arrested in October on federal charges related to their work with Giuliani in Ukraine, President Trump immediately dissociated himself from the pair. “I don’t know those gentlemen,” he said, dismissing multiple pictures taken with Parnas as evidence of their connection “because I have a picture with everybody.”
Parnas and Fruman appeared ready to play along. Before their October 10 arrest, they hired John Dowd, who had previously represented Trump during the Mueller investigation, as their attorney. According to the New York Times, the president signed off on the move — another sign that Trump’s claim of ignorance may not have been genuine.
After the arrest, another lawyer for the pair called the SDNY investigation into their campaign-finance violations a “smear campaign driven by self-serving and misleading leaks,” suggesting less than a total willingness to cooperate with prosecutors. Parnas also ignored a request from the House committees leading impeachment to provide documents and testimony related to his work in Ukraine.
But according to a statement provided by Parnas’s lawyer to Reuters, Trump’s tendency to throw staffers and surrogates under the bus may have changed his mind. “Mr. Parnas was very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him,” said Parnas’s lawyer Joseph Bondy. Parnas, who no longer retains Dowd, will now cooperate with the impeachment inquiries’ requests “when they are legally proper,” according to Bondy.
Parnas’s cooperation could be a major break for House Democrats running the impeachment inquiry. Though several administration members and alumni have testified on the danger of Giuliani’s shadow state department, the testimony of one of his fixers could shed light on the workings of their operation to dig for compromising information on Hunter Biden and push to remove U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch. According to Reuters, Parnas said “he played a key role in connecting Giuliani to Ukrainian officials.” And according to former U.S. prosecutor Joyce Vance, his cooperation should concern Giuliani, to whom Parnas’s company Fraud Guarantee has paid $500,000 in consulting fees:
Last week, the president and Republican allies quickly found talking points to deride the testimony of decorated Iraq War veteran and the National Security Council’s Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman as a “spy.” Judging from that standard, anticipate Parnas’s decision to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry as an open-season call for GOP leaders to attack the fraud guarantor on his extremely shady reputation. Like with the testimony of Michael Cohen, it’s important to remember who Parnas was doing the fixing for.