The WaPo has a really good piece that gives us the back story on Lev Parnas:
In an interview with The Washington Post, he compared himself to someone emerging from a “cult,” with fresh perspective on the dizzying events of the past two years.
“That arrest saved my life,” he said…
“I idolized him,” he said. “I mean, I thought he was the savior.”
Essentially like Trump’s stupidest lawyer (Sorry Rudy™) Michael Cohen, it took being arrested and * tossed * under the bus to make him see the world clearly again. The WaPo goes into depth with donations to PACs that supported Trump and buying access. But then Parnas and Fruman started going places with Rudy, seemingly all the time. We’ll jump ahead:
Parnas said living in Giuliani’s world was a heady experience. “I looked up to him. I grew up in New York and he was a legend. And here I was sitting with him, every night,” he said.At night, he would call his wife, Svetlana, and tell her about the powerful people he was meeting with Giuliani and the swanky fundraisers they were attending. “You won’t believe this!” he would exclaim…
Still, he said, he understood from the start that he and Fruman, who often wore T-shirts paired with gold chains, did not fit in Giuliani’s circle.“No one understood it,” Parnas said of their constant presence by his side. “I didn’t understand it.” But at the time, he said, he believed Giuliani enjoyed their company — and that Giuliani appreciated that the duo were a solicitous entourage, willing to drop anything to join him at his favorite haunts, stay out late while he drank scotch and pick up the tab.
So what happened, you ask?
Now Parnas believes that the president’s lawyer drew the two Soviet-born men close after he realized they had connections in Ukraine, a Giuliani obsession. The former New York mayor was convinced Ukrainians had worked against Trump in the 2016 election and were in possession of evidence of Biden’s corruption.
“I think we were recruited,” Parnas said. “It was the perfect storm.”
Being recruited is how cults of personality work: the recruiter finds the personality weakness, usually some insecurity, and exploits it by making the mark feel like part of something bigger and important. It’s like an addiction, you start to crave the stimulus and maybe against your own best judgement you believe that maybe you are important to the Dear Leader, or liked by Dear Leader, or whatever it is. And to keep it coming, you take up little tasks, like being given a “James Bond” assignment. It’s not exactly Patty Hearst, but more like The People’s Temple, and then one day you are given the Kool Aid.
The story rings true to me; it doesn’t mean that Parnas didn’t commit assorted crimes for Trump, it just means that he was exploited.