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Exclusive: After the White House meeting, Parnassus stated that he was on a "secret mission" to Trump in Ukraine



In a photo that Parnassus posts on social media, he and Fruman are seen smiling along with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer.

At one point during the party that evening, Parnassus and Fruman escaped from a large reception room, packed with hundreds of Trump donors, to have a private meeting with the President and Giuliani, according to two acquaintances whom Parnassus confided in shortly after the meeting.

After all, according to what Parnassus said to his confidants. , the topic turned to Ukraine that evening. According to these two confidants, Parnassus said that the "big man," as he sometimes used to call the president, talks about his tasks and Fruman described what Parnassus described as a "secret mission" to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

James Bond Mission

In the days immediately following the meeting, Parnassus insinuated the two, who confided that he clearly believed that he had received a special assignment from the President; like some "James Bond mission," according to one of the people.

For Parnassus, the chain of command was clear: Giuliani would issue directives to the president, while Parnass, who speaks fluent Russian, would be the investigator in the field, along with Fruman, who has numerous business contacts in Ukraine.

"Parnassus views the assignment as a great crusade," says one of the people Parnassus trusted. "He believed he was doing the right thing for Trump."

The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment on a series of questions about Trump's meeting with Parnassus and Fruman.

Giuliani, through his lawyer Robert Costello, denies that there was a private meeting at the White House in the evening, saying it was just a handshake and a photo opportunity. Costello also rejects Parnassus's allegations that he was put on a James Bond-style mission, saying that Parnassus "is not Sean Connery" and that he suffers from "delusions of grandeur."

Joseph A. Bondi, Parnassus's lawyer, told CNN, "Mr. Parnassus at any time believed he was acting only on behalf of the President, as directed by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and never on behalf of Ukrainian employees. "

Fruman's lawyer declined to comment on this article.

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In the past, Giuliani was careful about how he got in touch with Parnassus and Fruman. In previous conversations with CNN, Giuliani refused to identify his contact, simply saying that a "known investigator" had linked him to Parnassus.

Ken McCallion, a former federal prosecutor with numerous high-level clients in Ukraine, including former and current government officials, told CNN that he had heard a similar story about the party meeting in Hanukkah. Parnassus told some of McCallion's clients and contacts in Ukraine about the meeting. "Parnassus told everyone in Ukraine about the White House meeting. He was adamant that he was 'their man' – that they had chosen him as their ambassador to Ukraine," says McCallion.

In February this year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Parnassus and Fruman met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and then Attorney General Yuriy Lutsenko. During that meeting, they invited Poroshenko to a state dinner at the White House if he publicly committed to open investigations in Ukraine.
The December White House meeting is not the first report by Parnassus and the president discussing Ukraine. The Washington Post reported that in April 2018 at a small fundraising dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, Parnassus told Trump that US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Jovanovic was unpleasant with him and his interests. According to the Mail report, Trump, who cites people familiar with Parnassus' account of the event, suggests that Jovanovic be fired.

A year later in May 2019, Jovanovic was recalled from his post.

Another Close Date

A separate meeting – also undisclosed earlier – between Parnassus and the President may provide further evidence that Parnassus and Trump know each other. In August 2018, months before the White House party in Hanukkah, Trump traveled to New York State to attend a fundraiser for then-Republican Congresswoman Claudia Shadow.

Among the handful of wealthy donors who attended was Parnassus. Photos taken by CNN, provided by two of those present, show that Parnassus mixes with people and takes his picture taken with Trump. Both attendees said they were left with the impression that Trump and Parnassus knew each other. During a Q&A session, Trump called Parnassus with his first name, although there were nameplates in front of them.

One source said that Parnassus seems quite proud of his involvement with Trump.

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These meetings add a further understanding of the extent to which Parnassus and Fruman, assisted by Giuliani, enter the inner circle of the president. CNN recently reports that since 2014, there have been eight documented times when Parnassus and the president have been with each other, including taking photos together at campaign events and attending high-dollar fundraising events.

Parnassus, a popular social media user, was inclined to publicize these meetings with Trump. The photo of Trump and Parnassus together at the White House in December is the last meeting Parnassus has posted for himself with the president.

The two sources Parnassus trusted during the White House meeting at Hanukkah tell CNN that he has been with Parnassus frequently for the past eighteen months and that he "bowed" to the president.

Parnassus is disappointed with Trump

However, he felt then, these two sources claim that Parnassus now feels completely different about Trump. On the day after Parnassus and Fruman were arrested on Oct. 9 and charged with funding violations of criminal campaigns, Trump publicly denied knowing them, a move that extremely upset Parnassus, according to three sources close to him.
"I don't know these gentlemen," Trump told reporters from the White House's South Lawn on Oct. 10. "They may have been Rudy's clients. You will have to ask Rudy, I just don't know."

In the weeks following his arrest, Parnassus was excited about Trump, according to these sources. He even signaled that he was ready to assist with the Congressional impeachment investigation. Parnass Bondi's lawyer said his client would comply with a plea in Congress for documents and testimony as part of the impeachment investigation in a way that would allow him to defend his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Prosecutors accuse Parnassus and Fruman unlawfully. finances Republican politicians and campaigns with money from foreign citizens. Prosecutors also say the couple has raised $ 325,000 in the leading super PAC, America First Action, from an unknown source.
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Both Parnassus and Fruman have pleaded guilty and are currently under bail and Florida home pending trial. Both men also have a history of being accused of misconduct in civil court cases, although no criminal offenses have ever been filed. One of the 2008 charges against Parnassus involves a man who says he was threatened by Parnassus after the man accused him of kneeling in his condo in Sunny Beach. Parnassus denied addressing the threat and told police he had rented the apartment without a lease based on an oral agreement with the man.

Fruman's estranged wife, Elizabeth Naumova, accused him during their divorce proceedings of beating her and possessing large quantities of cocaine and other drugs, which he allegedly charged and distributed as a party service.

Parnassus' relationship with Giuliani and Fruman is also strained, two Parnassian confidants tell CNN. This is far from the days when the trio would often meet at the Trump Hotel and fly together.
  Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, arrives with his associate Lev Parnassus, left, before a state funeral service for former President George H.V. Bush at Washington National Cathedral, Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Last December, the day before the Hanukkah meeting at the White House, Giuliani brought Parnassus as his former funeral guest President George H.V. Bush.

Giuliani and Parnassus snip at each other through their lawyers.

Unlike Fruman, Parnassus is no longer represented by one of President John Dowd's former attorneys. "Igor has a lot more money than Parnassus and can afford a strong defensive team," says one of their confidants, trying to explain the split.

Meanwhile, Parnassus is trapped without his phones (government-owned) at his home in Boca Raton, Florida. His former friends don't connect, they don't want to get involved in the many investigations that attack him.

"In a strange way, I regret for Leo, the mess he is in now," says one of his confidants. "He never thought he'd done anything wrong; he works for a president he really believes in. He was a fast-paced, but nice person who gave people nice gifts. I would think it was all deeply upsetting for him."


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