After Donald Trump’s election, Lev Parnas saw a chance to cash in on his connections.
The Florida businessman and Trump donor was courting investors for a real-estate project. He took one of them, Roman Nasirov, at the time the head of Ukraine’s tax service, to Mr. Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, where they chatted with the president-elect in a crowd of supporters, a video released by Mr. Parnas’s attorney shows. Mr. Nasirov ultimately helped fund a $10 million loan Mr. Parnas arranged for the project, people familiar with the matter said.
A sizable donation to a political campaign typically brings a handshake and some chitchat with the candidate. In the three years that followed, Mr. Parnas went further.
As he launched himself into Mr. Trump’s orbit, Mr. Parnas found sponsors for his own ventures among wealthy Republican donors, mingling with them at fundraisers and dinners that he documented in copious selfies. He also sought out and eventually became a key associate of Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, who embraced Mr. Parnas in his pursuit of investigations in Ukraine.
The role he has carved out for himself has thrust the Ukrainian-born Mr. Parnas into the impeachment saga, injecting a wild card into the tightly choreographed proceedings on Capitol Hill. Last week, he offered new allegations in several interviews that have inflamed the debate about whether senators should call witnesses in the president’s trial, which opens Tuesday.