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2020-01-31 19:56:131 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
The talk has barely died down from the last Lev Parnas video, and now his attorney has released yet another one to The Washington Post. This one was filmed ten days before the last one and also shows him and Igor Fruman with Donald Trump, to go against the president's claims that he didn't meet the two businessmen until later in the year.
While in the previous video they were dining with Trump and others in the administration, this time they were with a small group of Republican Party donors who met the president at Mar-a-Lago. The two men were at some type of organized event. Also there that day was Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel.
It was previously known that Parnas and Fruman had been at an event at Trump's Florida estate, but the event's focus, who else attended, and where it fit in the timeline was not known.
The previous video, that was actually a followup to this newly-released video, showed Parnas informing Trump that the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was plotting against him, leading Trump to demand that she be removed from her position.
After the impeachment inquiry was launched, it was learned that Parnas and Fruman were associates of Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. They had coordinated with him on the information about Ukraine that Trump used to ask Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct politically-influenced investigations. After the connection to Giuliani was learned, the two men were arrested for unrelated campaign finance charges, just after a meeting with Giuliani.
"I don't know those gentlemen," Trump said in October when the rest of the country learned about them. Last week he referred to Parnas as "a con man" and a "groupie."
RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens defended McDaniel being at the meeting with Fruman and Parnas in a statement. "On any given day, the chairwoman greets hundreds if not thousands of people at events across the country," he said. "This is nothing more than that."
Her nameplate can be seen in the video, and it appears she was seated directly across from Fruman. She is heard in the video giving a presentation on polling with regard to the midterms that would take place later that year.
Parnas has said the two events show the proximity he and Fruman had with Trump, noting that when he "would see us, he would call us 'my boys.' Me and Igor together? It's not something you'd forget, particularly in that scene."
It was later that year that Giuliani began working with them, meaning their relationship with Trump predated their relationship with his attorney. He was not at either of these two events, according to people familiar with the meetings. Campaign finance records show that Parnas donated $50,000 to a joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and the RNC in October 2016.
Also in attendance at this RNC event was then-congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX). He was subpoenaed for the investigation dealing with Parnas and Fruman's alleged campaign finance violation. Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard, who is known to be close with Trump, was there as well.
At one point in the recording, Trump discussed his poll numbers and asked Sessions and McDaniel for an update on the Republicans with regard to the midterm elections.
"Mr. President, thank you very much," said Sessions. "We win when we are together. We win when we gather ourselves together around a common theme — that is, a president of the United States that wants to make America great again. It's the common denominator for every single member of Congress."
McDaniel talked about the midterms and said that while the Democrats were energized, the GOP were excited with Trump's leadership. "We must win. And we can win," she said. Democrats went on to take the House from the Republicans that November.
There is also discussion about Syrian foreign policy and former President Barack Obama's actions in Syria. A woman stating she is a Syrian-American from New Jersey told the president, "Syrian-Americans love you." Trump got into the discussion about Obama's policies with Syria and noted, "Obama gave Syria up two or three years ago."
Bill Edwards, a donor from St. Petersburg, Florida, told Trump he spent a long time in the mortgage business giving loans to military veterans. He complained about an effort to revise the Dodd-Frank Act that seems to be a measure Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced. It was designed to eliminate the process of repeatedly refinancing loans to generate fees for lenders.
Edwards was upset by the legislation, however, as it would eliminate what he felt was a streamlined program that allowed veterans to lower their interest rates through refinancing without appraisals and surveys.
Trump asked him if the problem was in the Senate or the House, and Edwards told him it was in the Senate. Sessions promised to look into it.
Edwards informed The Post on Thursday that he discussed this with Trump as a retired Marine and an advocate for veterans. He's no longer a mortgage lender and said he had nothing to gain in doing this, although that provision was incorporated into law later that year.
At one point his company was the largest refinancer of Department of Veterans Affairs loans. The company was shut down in 2013, stating it was because it couldn't comply with the requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act. He also agreed to a $7.5 million penalty from the FTC that same year. It was said to be the largest fine ever given over the "Do Not Call" telemarketing rule. His company was accused of calling more than 5.4 million numbers on the "Do Not Call" list to offer mortgage refinancing to military members and veterans.
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