- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2019

When the FBI arrested Lev Parnas at Washington Dulles International Airport, his belongings told the story of a wannabe Washington operator.

Among a five-page inventory, the one-time Rudy Giuliani associate had two Rolex watches, $5,000 in cash and Trump memorabilia, according to the FBI list obtained by The Washington Times. He also carried prescription antidepressants and opioids.

Since his arrest Oct. 9, Mr. Parnas, 47, a Soviet-born American citizen and Florida businessman, has unleashed via CNN sensational allegations against President Trump, his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican.

Mr. Giuliani says Mr. Parnas is spreading fiction.

“He just made it up,” he said of Mr. Parnas’ tale of having a private meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House.

“Poor Lev,” Mr. Giuliani told Fox News. “I don’t know what he’s doing to himself.”

Mr. Nunes says he plans to file a libel suit in response to Mr. Parnas’ assertion that the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee for Intelligence traveled to Vienna to secretly meet former chief Ukraine prosecutor Viktor Shokin.

Mr. Parnes quickly shifted from Trump helper to Trump detractor in the one day it took between his arrest at Dulles, which prevented him from boarding a plane with a one-way ticket, and prosecutors announcing an indictment against him. A grand jury in Manhattan accused him of using foreign money to make illegal campaign donations in U.S. elections.

He had been helping Mr. Giuliani find Ukrainians who could provide information on Vice President Joseph R. Biden and any effort by Kyiv to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Parnas’ seized possessions provide a glimpse of his heady days as a Giuliani confidant.

He owned “presidential White House cuff links and lapel pin,” the FBI property report stated. There also were red Trump straws, an iPhone in black leather case with presidential seal and a Trump hotel pen.

He also had four pill bottles. One contained escitalopram (brand name Lexapro), an antidepressant, and oxycodone, an opioid pain reliever.

The list was first reported by The Daily Beast.

Mr. Parnas remains under house arrest at his Florida home with GPS tracking on a $1 million personal recognizance bond secured with $200,000 in cash or property. The judge ordered him to turn over all firearms.

Last week, he told CNN and the Daily Beast through his lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy, that Mr. Nunes traveled to Vienna in 2018 and met with Mr. Shokin.

Mr. Nunes, a main Trump defender during the House’s impeachment proceedings, says the story is “demonstrably false.”

The congressman said Sunday he plans to file a defamation suit after Thanksgiving accusing CNN and the Daily Beast of obstruction of justice.

“We are going to take CNN and the Daily Beast likely into federal court,” he said on Fox News. “And we hope they cooperate because we are also going to be working with the appropriate law enforcement agencies because it is not OK to work with someone who has been indicted on serious federal crimes to build a media narrative and dirty up a member of Congress.”

On Twitter, Mr. Bondy is urging Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the intelligence committee, to hear his client’s allegations.

“I read Rep. Nunes’ remarks with close care,” he told The Washington Times on Sunday. “I remind him that, in addition to a free press, one of the cornerstones of our democracy is that a person is presumed innocent unless and until — if ever — they are proven guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Parnas has been charged in New York with Federal Election Act violations, and his indictment is not a conviction.”

CNN was also the conduit for another Parnas allegation.

The network reported that Mr. Parnas has told friends that when he attended a White House Hanukkah party with Mr. Giuliani, they huddled with the president privately. Mr. Trump gave Mr. Parnas instructions for a secret mission to find material on Mr. Biden.

Mr. Giuliani told Fox News’ Ed Henry that such a meeting never happened.

He said that he, Mr. Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, posed for a one-minute photo with the president and walked away.

“He has said a few things lately that are completely untrue and provably untrue,” Mr. Giuliani said. “I don’t know what he’s doing. He claims we had a meeting with the president at the Hanukkah party, in December 2018. Someone should remind Lev that there were five witnesses including his good friend, Igor Fruman, who all say categorically untrue. Provably by records. He’s trying to make himself very important. … We never had that meeting with the president. He just made it up.

“I introduced the two of them to the president,” he said.

“What he said was, we had a long private meeting in which the president instructed him to do things. False. Untrue. … His lawyer makes these comments that are not only untrue, they are provably untrue. … He’s getting very poor counsel.”

An Oct. 10 indictment in Manhattan charges that Mr. Parnas, Mr. Fruman and two others made sizable campaign contributions in 2018 under a fake company name to hide themselves as the real donors.

Their overall goal was to gain access to politicians who might be able to help their business ventures.

“As alleged in the indictment, the defendants broke the law to gain political influence while avoiding disclosure of who was actually making the donations and where the money was coming from,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. “They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official — a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.”

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman have pleaded not guilty.

NBC News identified the official as former Ukraine chief prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko.

Mr. Trump fired the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, in May.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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