A Million Here, a Million There

Lev Parnas reads a brief statement to the press as he exits federal court following an arraignment hearing on October 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
December 11, 2019 11:04 p.m.

Today federal prosecutors asked a judge to revoke the bail of Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. A main reason was that he had not disclosed to prosecutors that in September he received a million dollars from a bank account in Russia. This is certainly enough to make your ears prick up. But it’s a mystery at this point just what this money represents.

There was an unnamed Russian who had paid Parnas and Fruman to spread money around to various politicians in the US with the goal of setting up a legal marijuana business in Nevada. It seems possible that that person is the source of additional million dollars. But that’s just speculation.

Of course, the more intriguing possibility is that it was tied in some way to the work he was doing with or for Rudy Giuliani. Let’s set to one side the possibility of the direct involvement of state actors. While working with Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman clearly had their own hustles and rackets they were pursuing. They were helping Giuliani find people to make accusations against the Bidens. Giuliani’s clout with the President opened doors for them. A helpful pact of mutual assistance. Parnas and Fruman appear to have been helping and working with all sorts of different players. But who their main relationship was with is really unclear: Dmitry Firtash, some as yet unknown money-man in Ukraine or Russia? Perhaps that’s the wrong way to look at it and they were just trying to use the Giuliani connection to get as much money as possible as quickly as possible with no real plan beyond hustling as much cash as possible.

This million dollars would seem to be a significant clue to getting answers to those questions. Prosecutors clearly know a lot more about it than they’re revealing in court.

What is worth keeping in mind is that this remains a major wild card in the evolving impeachment saga. We know the overview version of what Trump did. But there are a lot of details that are murky. Just who was he working with to do it? What crooks and mobsters was his off the books Secretary of State, Giuliani, working with? And what new facts could emerge about them? Trump and Giuliani seem to have been in bed with the biggest crooks and sharks in Ukraine. Damaging new details about that could emerge at any moment, or not at all. Again, major wild card.

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