Two Soviet-born businessmen from Florida with ties to Rudy Giuliani had a private meeting with President Donald Trump last December, when they were tasked with “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens, CNN reported Friday.
In the days following the meeting, Lev Parnas came to believe he’d been given the special assignment, like some sort of “James Bond mission,” CNN reported, citing an unnamed source.
Parnas believed Giuliani would issue the president’s directives while Parnas, who speaks fluent Russian, would be an on-the-ground investigator alongside Igor Fruman, who has numerous business contacts in Ukraine.
“Parnas viewed the assignment as a great crusade,” one unnamed sources told CNN. “He believed he was doing the right thing for Trump.”
Giuliani, through his lawyer, Robert Costello, denied any private meeting took place, and rejected Parnas’ claims of being put on a “James Bond” style mission, saying Parnas is “no Sean Connery,” and that he suffers from “delusions of grandeur,” CNN reported.
Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, told CNN, however, that Parnas “at all times believed that he was acting only on behalf of the President, as directed by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and never on behalf of any Ukrainian officials.”
A lawyer for Fruman declined to comment, as did the White House, CNN reported.
Both Parnas and Fruman were charged in October with federal campaign finance violations.
The charges relate to a $325,000 donation to a group supporting Trump’s reelection.
Both have pleaded not guilty and are currently out on bail and on house arrest in Florida awaiting trial.