Donald Trump and Republicans keep claiming that Trump’s pressure on Ukraine isn’t about encouraging foreign interference in the 2020 elections—it’s about corruption. They are very, very focused on Ukrainian corruption and—surprise!—they should know, seeing as many Trump allies have been working to encourage and profit from it.
Three big Republican donors with ties to Trump and Rudy Giuliani—Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and Harry Sargeant III—were working to replace the CEO of Naftogaz, the Ukrainian state gas company, with another executive at the company, Andrew Favorov, who they apparently perceived as being more friendly to their profit motives. The men met with Favorov in Texas to propose a plan to import large quantities of liquefied gas from the U.S. to Ukraine, telling him that Trump supported the plan.
Dale Perry, a former business partner of Favorov’s, “told AP in an interview that Favorov described the meeting to him soon after it happened and that Favorov perceived it to be a shakedown.” Perry and a second source say that “Favorov said Parnas told him Trump planned to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and replace her with someone more open to aiding their business interests.” On Friday, Giuliani took credit for having Yovanovitch fired.
At the same time, soon-to-be-former Energy Secretary Rick Perry was also pressing for a shake-up at Naftogaz that would have moved a connected Republican into leadership there. A person in the room during that meeting, “who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, said he was floored by the American requests because the person had always viewed the U.S. government ‘as having a higher ethical standard.’” Ha ha ha, yeah, no. If that was ever true, it sure isn’t any more.