A Daily Beast question about a $325,000 donation from an LLC formed by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to a Trump super PAC campaign in early 2018 was the first in a series of events that ultimately led to the president’s impeachment, a new ProPublica podcast reports. A Trump Inc. episode out Wednesday says that while the revelation of the donation (and Parnas and Fruman’s subsequent dealings with Trump ended in indictments, as well as Trump’s impeachment) may make Americans rest easy in the knowledge that such alleged abuses are rigorously policed, the ProPublica-WNYC Studios joint investigation reports that it was exposed entirely by chance. It was reportedly uncovered by two people who responded to a question from Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay in this Pay Dirt report, in which he asked readers if anyone could tell him about the mysterious company that the pair used to donate the money.
Using Google Translate to decipher Russian-language articles, Brendan Fischer, from the elections-watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, and his researcher-investigator, Maggie Christ, dug into the donation and found its links to Parnas and Fruman. They found evidence that they had dined with Trump, then filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission—leading to the unraveling of the mystery of the pair’s dealings with the White House. It was at that dinner that Parnas and Fruman made the first known pitch to remove Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine—a move central to heart of the Trump impeachment investigation. Parnas and Fruman have pleaded not guilty.