By Tracy Beanz
**This article was updated to include new information**
An Open Society backed “nonpartisan” watchdog group was behind the indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, revealing suspicion that the pair were being targeted for their role in uncovering wrongdoing in Ukraine.
News broke this weekend, when a recording of President Trump speaking at a donor dinner party in 2018 was released by PBS News Hour. The man behind the recording? Lev Parnas, an American businessman now at the center of the impeachment fiasco surrounding the President. The tape shows President Trump responding to Parnas’ claims that former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was proclaiming President Trump would be impeached. In response President Trump states "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it." Yovanovitch wasn’t removed from her position until approximately a year later.
Parnas has been mentioned many times throughout the impeachment hearings, with house managers referring to recently disclosed text messages between he and Victor Shokin. Shokin is the former Ukrainian prosecutor general who was fired in 2016 by then Ukrainian President Poroshenko. By now the story is familiar; Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine if Shokin didn’t terminate his investigation into Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board of that company, amidst corruption allegations.
Parnas was indicted in October of 2019, along with his partners Igor Fruman, David Correia, and Andrey Kukushkin, on charges that he allegedly funneled money from an unnamed foreign national into several SuperPAC’s contributing to Republican candidates. While the indictment alleges these donations were made to curry favor with politicians in order to ensure that a marijuana company the group was attempting to launch would be successful, what hasn’t been reported is the origin of the information leading to the indictment.
The initial FEC violations were reported by Campaign Legal Center, who proudly boast on their home page “CLC Complaint Results in Arrest of Two Ukrainian-American Trump Donors Connected to Giuliani”. CLC made their first complaint in 2018, and then recently in June of 2019, they filed a supplement to that complaint. In the supplemental complaint, they used information from another lawsuit against Parnas, when financial records were disclosed in the case. The lawsuit involved an almost $400,000 loan Parnas received from the Pues Family Trust. The money was to go towards the production of a movie that never came to pass, and Parnas hadn’t paid the loan back. Pues was awarded a judgement in the case that they have been unable to collect on. In fact, the family makes a claim to the bond money in the SDNY case.
The complaint by CLC was made in July of 2018, and an extensive web search by UncoverDC revealed little previous reporting regarding Parnas or Fruman until after the CLC complaint was filed, with the first reports from legacy media outlets occurring on the day of the complaint. The CLC complaint references an obscure Russian language article in a blog, which is hyperlinked as a footnote using Google Translate. There is another article linked, also translated from Russian, that has since been replaced by another piece which is dated recently.
A quick peek into their public donor list sheds some light on the subject. George Soros’ Open Society Foundation is proudly listed on the donor page of the CLC. The CLC is a not-for-profit organization, so it isn’t possible to view the precise dollar amount Open Society Foundation provides the organization. As UncoverDC has reported, George Soros has ties to several of the Democrat witnesses in the impeachment case, including former ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor, and former Ambassador Yovanovitch, who provided Shokin a “do not prosecute” list that included a George Soros group. In fact, the CLC pens an article quoting Yovanovitch and mentioning Parnas, Fruman, and Giuliani.
Given the lack of legacy media reporting about the pair, it is interesting that the Soros funded CLC chose to focus on Parnas and Fruman. Remember, the complaint was filed in the midst of the Special Counsel investigation into the Trump campaign, while attorney for the President Rudy Giuliani began his investigation into Ukranian interference in the 2016 election. Also interesting is the timing of the indictments, which came just as the impeachment issue was bubbling at the surface, and from the controversial SDNY.
As Parnas continues his media tour, it’s clear that the Democrats have begun to utilize him in the same way they used former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. With everything to lose, Parnas is likely doing the bidding of his powerful attackers.
Tracy Beanz is the Founder and Editor in Chief at UncoverDC. You can follow her on Twitter @TracyBeanz