It was the day before Donald Trump’s inauguration and, over lunch at Washington’s Watergate Hotel, a foreign government was trying to break into the new U.S. administration.
Meeting for the first time to talk business were Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s foreign minister, and Brian Ballard, a powerful lobbyist then serving as vice chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee.
Also present were the two men who set up the meeting. One was Lev Parnas, a colorful Florida businessman whose backchannel dealings in Ukraine would, nearly three years later, lead to Trump’s impeachment. The other was Mübariz Mansimov, a Turkish-Azerbaijani shipping magnate now on trial in …read more