Trump directly tasked mob-tied ‘sleazeballs’ in Ukraine bribery scheme

  • 11/19/2019 12:45 pm ET Dara Brewton
“President outsources his foreign policy to gangsters”

screenshot / YouTube

When Ukrainians Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested in October, Trump claimed not to know the two men. However, evidence has surfaced that shows Trump actually had a whole lot more contact than he originally claimed—he may have even employed one of them to put more pressure on Ukraine.

“I don’t know those gentlemen,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn.

Yet, CNN has uncovered at least ten different interactions between Parnas and Fruman—who have been linked to the Russian mafia—and President Trump.

One of those instances included the White House’s annual Hanukkah party. The Ukranian duo attended with Rudy Giuliani. Afterward, Parnas allegedly told two people that Trump has personally tasked them with putting pressure on Ukraine to get an investigation into Joe Biden started.

Jonathan Chait of the Intelligencer discusses the charge:

“Trump recruited a pair of sleazeballs with ties to the Russian mafia to communicate with the Ukrainian government on his behalf. ‘President outsources his foreign policy to gangsters’ is the sort of charge that ought to draw more attention than it has.”

Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman didn’t focus solely on just the mob-like strongarming tactics while in Ukraine. They were also out to increase their own fortunes.

Rooting out corruption?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Parnas and Fruman were also pushing for a natural-gas contract from the Ukrainians. In order to increase their chances of success, they touted their relationship with the President’s personal representative: Rudy Giuliani.

Being connected to Giuliani, a person the President urged Zelenky and others to work with, gave Fruman and Parnas leverage they may not have had otherwise.

CNN reports that the pair pushed a Ukrainian energy firm called Naftogaz to replace its CEO with someone more “pliable.” It would appear that Trump’s associates were actively attempting to further corrupt the country. Even Energy Secretary Rick Perry may have been a part of this scheme.

While all this was going on, Trump was continually talking about the “Corruption” in Ukraine.

Quid pro quo or good old-fashioned extortion?

Thus far, the focus of the Impeachment inquiry has been on the quid pro quo or whether Trump attempted to wield his Presidential power for political gain.

But what if there is something even uglier lurking just beneath the surface?

If Parnas was being truthful regarding his Ukrainian mission tasked by the President, then Trump is caught up in an even bigger scandal than previously thought. Although it also raises another question: was Trump aware or involved in the—good old-fashioned extortion for cash—scheme to get Ukraine into handing over the energy contract?

While it is possible that Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman were working alone in that regard, it is also true that Trump is well-known for hating when other people make money using his name.

It would be a risk for the trio to do something of that magnitude without Trump’s knowledge or approval. Plus, it isn’t entirely unbelievable that Trump would allow or even support an effort to shake Ukraine down for natural-gas money as well as pressuring them to help his political campaign.

If Trump is involved, it makes the entire Ukraine scandal so much worse.



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