When news first broke that the two Giuliani-linked Soviet-born businessmen who were indicted on charges of interfering in U.S. elections had given $50,000 to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign last year, a spokesperson for DeSantis claimed that the governor barely knew who the men were. Now, thanks to the Tampa Bay Times, video and photos of DeSantis enthusiastically hugging the two men at his victory party have been released.
Since then, DeSantis finally acknowledged that he indeed had a relationship with Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, who have become major figures in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s presidency.
From the Tampa Bay Times:
…the pictures show Parnas wearing a badge stating “official guest” and the two standing next to DeSantis’ teacher from his Dunedin grade school days, a fixture at Tampa Bay area campaign events. Ferré later said “donors were likely invited” by his campaign to the party.
After the images came out, DeSantis admitted that he knew Parnas but he “didn’t know the other guy as much.”
It’s still not known why the contribution, which took place one day before President Trump endorsed DeSantis, was given, but prosecutors contend that the pair’s contributions were in exchange for political favors. DeSantis has since ordered his political committee to return the $50,000 donation.
The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Parnas and Fruman may have sought a foothold into Florida’s lucrative medical marijuana market. As of Friday, DeSantis had not called for an investigation. A lawyer for the men didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In many respects, Parnas and Fruman reflect the pool of people DeSantis turned to when he declared his candidacy as a relatively unknown congressman and Trump ally. Running for governor without the support of Florida’s GOP’s establishment, DeSantis leaned on Trump’s network of financiers, some with backgrounds that likely would have raised red flags in other campaigns.
Read the Tampa Bay Times’ full report here.
‘I demand to speak!’ Republican bursts into anger over Adam Schiff’s closing remarks
Republican Rep. Mike Conaway (TX) was not pleased that House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) got the last word at the second public impeachment hearing on Friday.
During his closing remarks, Schiff said Trump had engaged in "an effort to coerce, condition or bribe a foreign country into doing [his] dirty work."
"The fact that they failed in this solicitation of bribery doesn’t make it any less bribery. Doesn’t make it any less immoral or corrupt. It just means it was unsuccessful. And to that we owe other dedicated public servants who blew the whistle. Had they not blown the whistle we wouldn’t be here and I think it is appalling that my colleagues continue to want to out this whistleblower so that he or she can be punished by this president," Schiff said.
‘I’m sorry — is there a question there?’ Yovanovitch snaps back at Jim Jordan’s jumbled posturing
As questioning of former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch resumed on the second day of the House's public hearing in their impeachment inquiry, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) tried to suggest that there was a culture of anti-Trump sentiment amongst elements of the Ukrainian government and its US envoys.
Jordan then questioned Yovanovitch as to why she didn't try to intervene to make the environment less politicized.
"One of the things we've heard so much over the last six weeks in depositions, and frankly in the hearing on Wednesday, is how important bipartisan support is for Ukraine," Jordan said addressing Yovanovitch. "Democrats and Republicans agree they want to help Ukraine, in fact, [Ambassador Bill Taylor] said, 'Ukraine's most strategic asset is this bipartisan support...'"
Trump ‘blew up’ Republicans’ Yovanovitch strategy with bone-headed tweet: Former GOP House Intel chair
Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), who once served as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, shredded President Donald Trump for his widely panned decision to tweet out smears of former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
When asked by CNN's Jake Tapper on Friday what he made of the Yovanovitch hearing so far, Rogers didn't mince words about the president's behavior.
"I think the president blew up any Republican plan to treat the witness with respect when he tweeted out this morning," he said. "So I think that kind of screwed up their rhythm a little bit."