/There’s yet another level to the Trump administration’s corruption in Ukraine

There’s yet another level to the Trump administration’s corruption in Ukraine



President Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

IT’S BECOMING evident that President Trump’s corruption in Ukraine was not limited to his pressure for politicized investigations that could help his reelection campaign. We now know that the president’s unjustified firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May advanced the interests of two businessmen who made large contributions to his political campaigns.

According to reporting by The Post and other news organizations, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two emigres from the former Soviet Union with checkered financial histories, made $630,000 in contributions to Republican candidates and political action committees beginning in 2016, including $325,000 to a pro-Trump PAC. This year, the men sought the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, whom they saw as an obstacle to their scheme to change the management of Ukraine’s state energy company and strike a deal to sell it liquefied natural gas.

Messrs. Parnas and Fruman were working with Mr. Trump’s attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and connected him to two corrupt Ukrainian prosecutors, one of whom made false charges against Ms. Yovanovitch. The result was the abrupt recall of the ambassador, who told Congress last week that she had been yanked on the orders of Mr. Trump even though the State Department assured her she had done nothing wrong.

As Ms. Yovanovitch put it, “contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.” Messrs. Parnas and Fruman have now been arrested and charged with campaign finance violations, including routing illegal contributions to federal candidates from a Russian source.

Much more remains to be learned about this sordid affair, including the role played by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who also pressed for changes in the board of the Ukrainian energy company, including attempting to install one of his campaign contributors. It’s not known where Messrs. Parnas and Fruman obtained the hundreds of thousands of dollars they poured into GOP campaigns.

But the bottom line is that there are now two dimensions to Mr. Trump’s abuse of his office in Ukraine: his attempt to induce President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and Ukraine’s purported role in the 2016 election; and his removal of a competent and corruption-fighting ambassador who opposed a questionable venture by men who contributed to Mr. Trump’s campaigns and did business with his personal lawyer.

In one instance, Mr. Trump was attempting to advance his personal political interest. In the other, he was trashing the career of a distinguished Foreign Service professional and subverting U.S. foreign policy to serve shady private interests.

The damage he has done is considerable. As Ms. Yovanovitch summed it up, “That harm will come not just through the inevitable and continuing resignation and loss of many of this nation’s most loyal and talented public servants. . . . The harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good. The harm will come when bad actors in countries beyond Ukraine see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system.”