In federal court on Wednesday, prosecutors made a revelation that may link Donald Trump's scheme to pressure the government of Ukraine into an investigation of Joe Biden — the allegation for which he is now being impeached — to a pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire with links to Vladimir Putin. That billionaire, Dmitry Firtash, is also reputed to be an "upper echelon" associate of Russian organized crime and is currently living in Vienna fighting extradition to the United States on a bribery indictment.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan told U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken that Firtash had paid $1 million, for reasons that have yet to be fully explained, to Svetlana Parnas — who is the wife of Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to a Bloomberg News report.
Working for the former New York mayor, Parnas took part in a scheme to leverage the bogus "investigation" of Biden from the Ukrainian government — an investigation that would directly benefit Trump's 2020 re-election campaign by discrediting the Democrat who currently appears most likely to oppose him.
But Parnas has also claimed that Trump himself dispatched him on the "James Bond mission" to Ukraine, during a secret meeting that also included Giuliani, at a White House Hanukkah party in December, 2018. A photo reportedly from that party showing Parnas with Trump and Giuliani, along with Parnas's business partner Igor Fruman, and Vice President Mike Pence, may be seen below.Prosecutors, who were seeking to revoke bail for Parnas, said that the Soviet Union-born businessman failed to disclose the million-dollar payment from Firtash. But Parnas contends that the money was a "loan" from the oligarch to his wife in order to help with a down-payment on a $4.5 million Florida mansion, according to Bloomberg News.
But prosecutor Rebekah Donaleski said that it was simply not "plausible" that the stream of cash from the oligarch was a "loan" to Parnas's wife.
"It's an unsecured, undocumented loan to a housewife with no assets," Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski told the judge, as quoted by The Washington Post. "That makes no sense, your honor." Donaleski said that the money was clearly intended for some unspecified use by Parnas himself.
The prosecutor also said that Parnas had "bragged that the money was his" and spent the money as if it were his own, as well.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested in October and charged with campaign finance violations for allegedly funneling hundreds of thousands in secret payments from an unidentified Russian businessman to several Republican political candidates — including to Trump himself through a pro-Trump SuperPac.