After his arrest three months by the FBI as he was boarding an airplane to escape the USA, indicted American Lev Parnas–who was born in the Soviet Union’s Ukraine 47 years ago but grew up in New York with a Brooklyn accent–spoke out publicly this week for the first time saying his devotion to President Donald Trump was like being in “a cult.”
Lev Parnas is being charged by the Justice Department’s Southern District of New York for conducting illegal election campaign donations by foreigners. He denies guilt in it.
Parnas started out in business selling Trump condos. Not Donald Trump condos, but those of Fred Trump, The Donald’s father. Parnas eventually became a securities trader doing business in the former Soviet Union, such as his birthplace of Ukraine. That’s how he got to know important people, such as politicians, in Ukraine.
Parnas says of Trump, “I was really passionate about the president. I started really believing that he could really make a change and make it happen.” Businessman Parnas donated $50,000 to the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, one month before the presidential election which Trump won. Parnas now says he said then of Donald Trump, “I tell you honestly, I think he’s going to go down as one of the greatest presidents ever, even with all this negativity and everything that’s going on.” Parnas adds, “I idolized him. I mean I thought he was the savior.”
Parnas says that when the FBI searched his home three months ago, his wife was embarrassed when one of the agents said Lev had a “shrine” to Trump. He had photos and pictures of Donald Trump all over the walls of his home. Parnas is obviously a picture guy.
This week the media has published many photos given to them by Parnas showing him with Donald Trump, Rudy Guiliani, who is Trump’s personal lawyer who conducted the controversial activities in Ukraine, and other Trump associates, even Trump family members such as Don Jr.
President Trump said this week that he does not know Lev Parnas. The photos that Parnas has furnished suggest otherwise. Parnas has turned on Donald Trump because Parnas says the president has turned Lev Parnas. Parnas now says that whenever Trump denies that he knows Parnas, Mr. Parnas will release another photo of him and Trump together.
Parnas claims that he was Giuliani’s main go-to-guy to try to get Ukraine politicians to get political dirt on Joe Biden and his son due to their past activities in Ukraine. Just as many others have stated recently about Trump, Parnas says Trump directed Guiliani to do this because Joe Biden would be Trump’s main political foe in the next presidential election.
The Senate trial to remove President Donald Trump from office begins this Tuesday. It is going to be all about this Ukraine affair. The Democrats are demanding witnesses, which could include Parnas. Nearly all Republicans are refusing to have witnesses in an effort to get Trump acquitted.
But what about Parnas calling some of this Trump following “a cult.” He is not the only one doing so. One of Trump’s foremost critics in the media is Washington attorney George Conway who, ironically, is married to Kelly Anne Conway, one of Trump’s main presidential advisors. George Conway has been saying for months now that many Trump supporters are in “a cult,” which seems to include his wife.
Long-time CBS news anchor Dan Rather said weeks ago, “Increasingly, President Trump’s support seems cultish. It’s all about him, it’s not about a policy. These cults, cults generally don’t end well. People will say it’s too much to say it’s a cult. I don’t think so.” Of course, it first depends on how you define the word “cult.”
These people are saying such things because Donald Trump has become a cult-like figure who doesn’t think the law applies to him. As he said during his election campaign years ago, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
Cult figures are narcissistic. In my opinion, Donald Trump is a classic narcissist. I don’t need to be a psychologist or a psychiatrist to make that judgment since it is so obvious. The more difficult assessment is whether or not he is a psychopath. I do think that should be left to the professionals to decide.
Mental health counselor Steven Hassan has just written and published a book entitled The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control (New York: Free Press, Jan/2020). Hassan has been helping people exit destructive cults since 1976. Hassan should know something about what he’s talking about. Hassan was a Moonie, being in the cult called The Unification Church. Its pastor is a Korean cult figure who calls himself “the Reverend Moon.” Hassan has appeared on TV programs 60 Minutes, Nightline, Dateline.
(One year on the Senior/Champions Tour, I finished second at Tampa, losing by one stroke to my friend Jim Albus. When I finished the tournament, someone in the gallery yelled out loudly, “Moon Man.” That, or Moon Pro, or the Pro from the Moon, was my nickname in pro golf. My caddie, Sam, didn’t know that. Because I am a Christian and I co-founded the PGA Tour Bible Study, he then looked at me and said, jokingly, “Reverend Moon.” He cracked me up.)
The online Psychiatric Times has an article about this book, saying it is “informative,” with “persuasive arguments,” yet its title is “debatable.” They explain it does not break the American Psychiatric Association’s so-called Goldwater Rule–which says a psychiatrist must not assess a person’s psychiatric condition without personal evaluation–because Hassan is not a psychiatrist. The article concludes, “Given the question of whether there is a ‘Cult of Trump,’ . . . it behooves all mental health caregivers to learn from such a valuable and timely book.”
If Trump is a cult figure, where does that leave all these Evangelicals who voted for Trump? Pew Research says that of all professing Evangelicals who voted in the 2016 presidential election, 81% of them voted for Donald Trump. If true, they had a lot to do with his election because 25% of all adult Americans claim to be Evangelical. Are Evangelicals who still support Donald Trump for president in a cult?