Private Instagram account of indicted Giuliani associate shows Trump letter thanking him for friendship

The Independent 1 month ago

Photos on the private Instagram account of indicted Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas shows close ties to Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The account of Parnas, who is accused of campaign finance violations for funnelling foreign funds into US elections, portray a close relationship with Mr Trump and his family as far back as 2015. The photos were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

It includes multiple photos of Parnas posing with Mr Trump, including one from October 2015 captioned: “Next president and future president!!!!”. Parnas later shared the photo of a letter signed by the president and first lady Melania Trump, thanking Parnas for his “friendship and dedication”.

Other photos show Parnas during frequent visits to Trump properties in New York, Washington, and Florida, and jet-setting across the world with Mr Giuliani. He also shared photos with various members of the Trump family as well as a private dinner with Trump’s legal team.

Parnas' lawyer told the Wall Street Journal that the photos reflect how he was a major political donor and was helping Mr Giuliani represent Trump.

Parnas and his partner Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born businessmen, were arrested earlier this month on federal charges. They were arrested at Washington’s Dulles airport. Both had one-way tickets for an international flight.

Accused of abusing his office by pressing the Ukrainian president in a July phone call to help dig up dirt on Joe Biden, who may be his Democratic rival in the 2020 election. He also believes that Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails - a key factor in the 2016 election - may be in Ukraine, although it is not clear why.
Believed to be a CIA agent who spent time at the White House, his complaint was largely based on second and third-hand accounts from worried White House staff. Although this is not unusual for such complaints, Trump and his supporters have seized on it to imply that his information is not reliable. Expected to give evidence to Congress voluntarily and in secret.
The lawyer for the first intelligence whistleblower is also representing a second whistleblower regarding the President's actions. Attorney Mark Zaid said that he and other lawyers on his team are now representing the second person, who is said to work in the intelligence community and has first-hand knowledge that supports claims made by the first whistleblower and has spoken to the intelligence community's inspector general. The second whistleblower has not yet filed their own complaint, but does not need to to be considered an official whistleblower.
Former mayor of New York, whose management of the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001 won him worldwide praise. As Trump’s personal attorney he has been trying to find compromising material about the president’s enemies in Ukraine in what some have termed a “shadow” foreign policy. In a series of eccentric TV appearances he has claimed that the US state department asked him to get involved. Giuliani insists that he is fighting corruption on Trump’s behalf and has called himself a “hero”.
The newly elected Ukrainian president - a former comic actor best known for playing a man who becomes president by accident - is seen frantically agreeing with Trump in the partial transcript of their July phone call released by the White House. With a Russian-backed insurgency in the east of his country, and the Crimea region seized by Vladimir Putin in 2014, Zelensky will have been eager to please his American counterpart, who had suspended vital military aid before their phone conversation. He says there was no pressure on him from Trump to do him the “favour” he was asked for. Zelensky appeared at an awkward press conference with Trump in New York during the United Nations general assembly, looking particularly uncomfortable when the American suggested he take part in talks with Putin.
The vice-president was not on the controversial July call to the Ukrainian president but did get a read-out later. However, Trump announced that Pence had had “one or two” phone conversations of a similar nature, dragging him into the crisis. Pence himself denies any knowledge of any wrongdoing and has insisted that there is no issue with Trump’s actions. It has been speculated that Trump involved Pence as an insurance policy - if both are removed from power the presidency would go to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, something no Republican would allow.
Trump reportedly told a meeting of Republicans that he made the controversial call to the Ukrainian president at the urging of his own energy secretary, Rick Perry, and that he didn’t even want to. The president apparently said that Perry wanted him to talk about liquefied natural gas - although there is no mention of it in the partial transcript of the phone call released by the White House. It is thought that Perry will step down from his role at the end of the year.
The former vice-president is one of the frontrunners to win the Democratic nomination, which would make him Trump’s opponent in the 2020 election. Trump says that Biden pressured Ukraine to sack a prosecutor who was investigating an energy company that Biden’s son Hunter was on the board of, refusing to release US aid until this was done. However, pressure to fire the prosecutor came on a wide front from western countries. It is also believed that the investigation into the company, Burisma, had long been dormant.
Joe Biden’s son has been accused of corruption by the president because of his business dealings in Ukraine and China. However, Trump has yet to produce any evidence of corruption and Biden’s lawyer insists he has done nothing wrong.
The attorney-general, who proved his loyalty to Trump with his handling of the Mueller report, was mentioned in the Ukraine call as someone president Volodymyr Zelensky should talk to about following up Trump’s preoccupations with the Biden’s and the Clinton emails. Nancy Pelosi has accused Barr of being part of a “cover-up of a cover-up”.
The secretary of state initially implied he knew little about the Ukraine phone call - but it later emerged that he was listening in at the time. He has since suggested that asking foreign leaders for favours is simply how international politics works.
The Democratic Speaker of the House had long resisted calls from within her own party to back a formal impeachment process against the president, apparently fearing a backlash from voters. On September 24, amid reports of the Ukraine call and the day before the White House released a partial transcript of it, she relented and announced an inquiry, saying: “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.”
Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, one of the three committees leading the inquiry. He was criticized by Republicans for giving what he called a “parody” of the Ukraine phone call during a hearing, with Trump and others saying he had been pretending that his damning characterisation was a verbatim reading of the phone call. He has also been criticised for claiming that his committee had had no contact with the whistleblower, only for it to emerge that the intelligence agent had contacted a staff member on the committee for guidance before filing the complaint. The Washington Post awarded Schiff a “four Pinocchios” rating, its worst rating for a dishonest statement.
Florida-based businessmen and Republican donors Lev Parnas (pictured with Rudy Giuliani) and Igor Fruman were arrested on suspicion of campaign finance violations at Dulles International Airport near Washington DC on 9 October. Separately the Associated Press has reported that they were both involved in efforts to replace the management of Ukraine's gas company, Naftogaz, with new bosses who would steer lucrative contracts towards companies controlled by Trump allies. There is no suggestion of any criminal activity in these efforts.
The former US ambassador to NATO was appointed special envoy to Ukraine, and is thought to have played a role in linking Giuliani with Ukraine officials. He resigned just before giving evidence to Congress, which had subpoenaed him. After his testimony it emerged that he had apparently told Giuliani that he was being fed false information about the Bidens from Ukrainian officials.
A career diplomat who was appointed US ambassador to Ukraine towards the end of Barack Obama’s presidency. She was abruptly recalled from her post in May 2019 amid claims that she was not co-operating with Rudy Giuliani’s unorthodox activities in Ukraine. In the Ukraine phone call Trump refers to her as “the woman” and “bad news” and hints darkly at some sort of retribution, saying: “Well, she’s going to go through some things.” Subpoenaed to give evidence to Congress.
A Seattle hotelier who became US ambassador to the European Union after donating $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee, despite having no diplomatic experience. According to the whistleblower, Sondland met Ukrainian politicians to help them “understand and respond to the differing messages they were receiving from official US channels on one hand and from Mr GIuliani on the other”. Subpoenaed to give evidence to Congress.
A career diplomat, he was number two at the Ukraine embassy under Marie Yovanovitch. He has been subpoenaed to give evidence to Congress.
An adviser to secretary of state Mike Pompeo, with whom he has run businesses. The two were also at West Point military academy together. Swiss-born Brechbuhl is said to handle “special diplomatic assignments”. Subpoenaed to give evidence to Congress.

The South Florida businessmen facilitated a $325,000 donation to President Trump’s official super PAC America First Action. After their arrest, Mr Trump quickly distanced himself from the two men, claiming he doesn’t know them. Both men have now been subpoenaed in the impeachment inquiry at the US House of Representatives. Prosecutors say Parnas and Fruman also used money from an unnamed foreign national to donate to US political campaigns.

The two businessmen, who are notable donors to the Republican party, used their connections to Mr Giuliani to try to appoint a friendlier management team to Ukraine's state gas company. They were then planning to bring large contracts to companies of Trump’s close allies, the Associated Press reported. Their dealings happened as Mr Giuliani was also pushing Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rival, former vice president Joe Biden and his son.  

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The close relationships raise questions on whether those with ties to Trump have been using politics for financial gains, while the president is pushing to investigate Mr Biden’s son for serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

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