A photograph of President Donald Trump posing with a recently indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani was posted online in March 2014, two years prior to what had been their first known interaction.
In the photo, Trump and Lev Parnas stand shoulder to shoulder, smiling at the camera at what appears to be an outdoor nighttime event. Trump wears a white, Trump-branded cap and white shirt under a jacket. Parnas wears a royal blue collared shirt. The circumstances of the meeting captured in the photograph remain unclear.
It was posted on March 8, 2014, on the Facebook account of Shawn Jaros, also known as Shawn Jarosovich. Jaros posted the photo again on April 2 with the caption, “the big homies!!!!!!!!!!! for real tho” and then commented on the photo, “salute lev im coming brother!!!!!!!!!”
In between, on March 14, Jaros posted, “Shout out to my ukranian boss and brother Lev Parnas thank you for eberything you and your team doing for me, i cant repay you enough!!!!!!!! and i want to meet the donald soon!!!!!!”
That post suggests the meeting captured in the photo was not a chance interaction, and that Parnas had discussed his access to Trump with Jaros.
Trump has sought to distance himself from Parnas, the Florida businessman at the center of a ballooning scandal over illicit foreign influence in his administration and, more broadly, the American political system. But the photograph and post provide further evidence that the two men are more closely tied than Trump has let on.
Other Facebooks posts by Jaros around that time describe Parnas as a business partner. Jaros does not reveal the nature of their work together, but on March 14, 2014, he posted, “three letters llc!!!!!!!!!!!!” on his Facebook page. May 28, 2014, he posted, “two words foreign investments!!!!!!!!!!!!” on his Facebook page. On May 22, he posted, “i was told today some people i deal with have 300 mllion in dong in their posession.”
A year later, on May 12, 2015, he posted a photo of Parnas sitting in the backseat of a Rolls Royce with the caption, “the big homie, okk, one call and bammm!!!!!!”
Jaros is an itinerant musician and music producer, who has worked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Queens, New York; Atlanta and Minneapolis, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The profile also describes it as his job to "negotiate and close deals centered on gold oil, rough diamonds" for a business called Gabriel and Jaros Holdings. Jaros's work appears to be lucrative. He regularly posts photos of large piles of cash on his social media accounts.
Jaros did not immediately respond to requests for comment made over social media. A lawyer for Parnas, John Dowd, said he did not know anything about the photographed interaction and declined to answer further questions.
Following the unsealing of Parnas’ indictment last week for campaign finance violations over alleged schemes to buy political influence on behalf of foreigners, Trump said he did not know Parnas or his business partner and co-defendant, Igor Fruman. “I don’t know those gentleman,” he told reporters before boarding Marine One en route to a campaign rally in Minneapolis. “Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy.”
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal described Parnas’ attendance at a Trump campaign fundraiser attended by the candidate and Giuliani in October 2016 as “his first known appearance in Mr. Trump’s circle.” Parnas, 47, told The Washington Post that he sold Trump Organization condos while Trump’s father, Fred, was still running the business.
POLITICO reported on Friday that the French newspaper Le Figaro interviewed Parnas at the Trump campaign’s invite-only election night party in 2016, and that Parnas described himself to the paper as a friend of Trump’s.
Those are not Parnas’ only ties to the campaign. His son, Aaron, volunteered for the Trump campaign in Florida in 2016, according to a 2017 profile in The Palm Beach Post.
A man answering the phone at a number listed for Aaron Parnas hung up after hearing they had been reached by a reporter. The person did not respond to follow-up text messages.
In May 2018, Parnas posted a photo of himself with Trump at the White House with a caption describing an “incredible dinner and even better conversation,” in a screenshot captured by The Campaign Legal Center. Later that month he posted a picture of himself with Fruman and Donald Trump Jr. in Beverly Hills, with the caption “Power Breakfast!!!”
Spokespeople for the White House and the Trump reelection campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Susan Wiles, who co-chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in Florida, also did not respond to a request for comment.
Marc Caputo contributed to this report.