Two indicted Soviet-born businessmen from Florida, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, had a private meeting with the President and Giuliani at the White House’s annual Hanukkah party last year, according to two acquaintances in whom Parnas confided right after the meeting.
CNN reported that the December meeting, which has not been previously reported, is “further indication that Trump knew Parnas and Fruman, despite Trump publicly stating that he did not on the day after the two men were arrested at Dulles International Airport last month.”
Eventually, according to what Parnas told his confidants, the topic turned to Ukraine that night. According to those two confidants, Parnas said that “the big guy,” as he sometimes referred to the President in conversation, talked about tasking him and Fruman with what Parnas described as “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
In the days immediately following the meeting, Parnas insinuated to the two people he confided in that he clearly believed he’d been given a special assignment by the President; like some sort of “James Bond mission,” according to one of the people.
To Parnas, the chain of command was clear: Giuliani would issue the President’s directives while Parnas, who speaks fluent Russian, would be an on-the-ground investigator alongside Fruman, who has numerous business contacts in Ukraine.
“Parnas viewed the assignment as a great crusade,” says one of the people in whom Parnas confided. “He believed he was doing the right thing for Trump.”
The White House did not respond to repeated requests by CNN for comment to the bombshell accusation.
Giuliani, through his lawyer, denies that any private meeting took place that night at the White House.
The lawyer also rejects Parnas’ claims of being put on a “James Bond” style mission, saying that Parnas is “no Sean Connery,” and that he suffers from “delusions of grandeur.”
“Mr. Parnas at all times believed that he was acting only on behalf of the President, as directed by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and never on behalf of any Ukrainian officials,” Joseph A. Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, told CNN.