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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Rudy Giuliani-Lev Parnas storm under Trump echoes a Bush-era fiasco

Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik with President George

Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik with President George W. Bush in 2004. Credit: AP / Ron Edmonds

The storm over Republican fundraiser Lev Parnas' cooperation with impeachment investigators clearly vexes President Donald Trump, who rather implausibly denies knowing him.

As the Ukraine scandal unfolded last year, Parnas became known foremost as a business associate and client of Rudy Giuliani. Then Parnas was indicted on criminal charges involving campaign finance laws.

About 15 years ago, a different Giuliani friend ended up embarrassing a different Republican president in a different way.

Shortly after his reelection in 2004, President George W. Bush nominated Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, to head the Department of Homeland Security. Seven days later, Kerik withdrew as nominee.

As Parnas did long afterward, Kerik became a business associate of Giuliani's.

As Parnas did long afterward, Kerik moved alongside the ex-mayor in White House and high-level Republican circles.

And as Parnas did long afterward, Kerik got himself into troubles all his own. In 2010, Kerik was sentenced to 4 years in prison after pleading guilty to eight felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.

That case never touched Giuliani, but the two seemed to grow distant as Kerik's troubles developed. The case of the ex-cop-turned-commissioner-turned-defendant became a bit of a publicity albatross as the ex-mayor made a bid for president in 2008.

From past to present, there are key differences.

Parnas' potential usefulness to Trump was strictly electoral, not in government as a law enforcement professional.

Also, Parnas may have had his own connections to Trump apart from Giuliani, having been a donor in the 2016 campaign.

Parnas has had troubled businesses, spawning litigation, and it's unclear what Giuliani knew of them when the two began efforts to dig up dirt on Democrat Joe Biden in Ukraine.

Giuliani said he's done consulting work for Parnas' company called Fraud Guarantee in 2018 and was paid $500,000 for it.

Parnas told the Daily Beast last week that after he and his associate Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport on Oct. 9 and charged with campaign-finance violations, he was disappointed with Giuliani’s silence. Parnas said the same of Trump-allied lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, the news site reported.

“I felt like my family left me,” he said.

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