The Trump Impeachment Saga Is Basically Shakespearean. This Is Its Cast Of Characters.
We were having trouble keeping track of the many people involved in the Ukraine adventures at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, so we made this for ourselves — and you.
Ed. Note: As the impeachment train continues rolling, this is meant to be a frequently updated resource detailing the people involved. It is divided into three sections; entries after the first section are listed alphabetically. Names in CAPITAL LETTERS have their own entry in this piece that can be cross-referenced.
Donald J. Trump, PRESIDENT of AMERICA
President Trump has, since he was a candidate, insisted that Russia had no role in his election. In pursuit of proof, he dispatched GIULIANI to Ukraine to gather evidence in support of a conspiracy theory that claims it was Ukraine, and not Russia, that intervened in the 2016 election. In the process, he used a July 25 phone call to ask President ZELENSKY to investigate both the conspiracies and HUNTER BIDEN’s role at a Ukrainian natural gas company, triggering the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.
Joseph R. Biden, Trump’s foe
The former US vice president launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination this April. TRUMP reportedly considers him his biggest threat while running for reelection. Biden bragged at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2018 about his role getting SHOKIN fired. TRUMP and GIULIANI now accuse him of doing so to protect HUNTER from prosecution — even though there is no evidence that HUNTER was ever under investigation or broke any Ukrainian laws.
R. Hunter Biden, his son
Hunter first joined the board at Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company, in 2014, likely to help the company promote a better image abroad as it and its owner had been under investigation numerous times. For this, Hunter was paid a reported $1 million a year. He resigned ahead of JOE BIDEN’s presidential campaign launch but has been the target of TRUMP associates’ pursuit of information that would harm his father’s campaign. TRUMP has also suggested that China investigate Hunter’s work there, despite there also being no evidence of illegal activity in his business dealings there.
Rudolph Giuliani, a LAWYER for Trump
The former mayor of New York City, Giuliani has been at TRUMP’s side since before the election, at one point lobbying to be secretary of state. Instead, he became Trump’s cybersecurity czar before joining the team of lawyers defending TRUMP personally in the Russia investigation. He has been “investigating” in Ukraine since last year to gain new information on the 2016 election with the aid of FRUMAN and PARNAS. He is reportedly now the subject of a criminal investigation for his work in Ukraine.
Volodymyr Zelensky, PRESIDENT of UKRAINE
Zelensky came to office when a tsunami of support for his once long-shot campaign, which focused on eliminating corruption, took hold with Ukrainians ready for a change. A former comedian, Zelensky has had to balance his need to keep TRUMP happy to ensure that his country receives the military aid it needs to fight Russia with not being beholden to the US president. His July 25 call with TRUMP was the subject of a whistleblower complaint that kicked off the current impeachment inquiry. Zelensky has said publicly that he did not feel pressured during the call, but Ukrainian officials have said they were aware that political and military assistance depended on their cooperating with GIULIANI.
Ivan Bakanov, a POLITICIAN
Bakanov was head of ZELENSKY’s Servant of the People party until earlier this year, when he became the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, which is akin to the FBI. He was also ZELENSKY’s campaign chair and was reportedly involved with early lobbying of the Trump administration soon after Ukraine’s election. He was named in the whistleblower’s complaint as one of several Ukrainian officials who met with GIULIANI.
Andriy Bohdan, an AIDE
A longtime friend of ZELENSKY’s, he was named the president’s chief of staff soon after his inauguration in April. But Bohdan’s role in the YANUKOVYCH government and as a lawyer to KOLOMOISKY has left many, including the International Monetary Fund, wary. GIULIANI has claimed that the State Department warned him not to meet with Bohdan when traveling to Ukraine.
Dmytro Firtash, an OLIGARCH
Firtash is one of the richest and most powerful people in Ukraine, having made much of his money in the sometimes unscrupulous gas trade between Russia and Ukraine. He has been in legal trouble in Chicago since he was indicted on federal bribery and racketeering charges in 2013. He was arrested the next year in Vienna, where he is still fighting against being sent to the US for trial.
In a surprise move, SHOKIN entered an affidavit supporting Firtash in his trial. The former prosecutor alleged that BIDEN had prevented Firtash from returning to Ukraine, where he could not be extradited, in 2014. The BIDEN campaign has denied it, and SHOKIN provided no evidence that explained why he was defending someone the US has alleged has "upper echelon" ties with Russian organized crime.
The influential billionaire has employed DIGENOVA and TOENSING as his lawyers attached to his case since July. He has also reportedly been “financing the activities” of PARNAS and FRUMAN, who "worked in an unspecified capacity" for him at some point. They in turn have been working for GIULIANI. (GIULIANI ironically attacked lawyer Lanny Davis, who was defending TRUMP's former lawyer, for having Firtash as a client earlier this year.)
Serhiy Leshchenko, a former PARLIAMENTARIAN
While a member of Ukraine’s Parliament back in 2016, Leshchenko revealed the existence of a “black ledger” that showed MANAFORT’s secret payments from YANUKOVYCH’s political party, prompting MANAFORT’s resignation from the TRUMP campaign. GIULIANI has falsely claimed that Leshchenko released a fake document at the prompting of the Democratic Party.
An administrative court’s ruling that Leshschenko interfered in the 2016 US election — which was used as fodder by TRUMP’s allies — was later overturned this summer and deemed unfounded. Leschenko has said the lies from GIULIANI and others prevented him from getting a job in the ZELENSKY administration.
Yuriy Lutsenko, a former PROSECUTOR
Lutsenko was named prosecutor general of Ukraine after SHOKIN was fired in 2016. He reportedly clashed early and often with YOVANOVITCH, who told him to focus more on prosecuting corruption. Lutsenko told SOLOMON that she gave him a list of people that the US said could not be investigated, a claim that he later recanted. He has no legal training and a reputation for using his office for political gain.
He first met with GIULIANI in January and said it was clear that he wanted HUNTER investigated. Lutsenko also knew that he needed favor with the TRUMP administration to keep his job as POROSHENKO's stock fell. In March, he announced he would reopen the investigation into HUNTER's company, a development heralded by SOLOMON and TOENSING. After ZELENSKY’s election, he pushed to stay in his position but was eventually dismissed. Lutsenko was mentioned in the call between TRUMP and ZELENSKY as "a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair." He has since said in multiple interviews that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by HUNTER or JOE BIDEN.
Ihor Kolomoisky, a PATRON
A media tycoon, one of the country's wealthiest men, and a former governor, Kolomoisky was a powerful figure in Ukrainian politics even before ZELENSKY, whose hit show aired on the channel Kolomoisky owned, came to office. During his time as head of PrivatBank, Ukraine's largest private bank, he allegedly funneled massive loans to himself and associates. The POROSHENKO administration nationalized the bank in 2016 it was declared insolvent. The links between Kolomoisky and ZELENSKY — including the president naming BOHDAK, the oligarch's longtime lawyer, as chief of staff — have made many observers wary. (He is reportedly under FBI investigation for alleged money laundering in Cyprus.)
PARNAS and FRUMAN visited him in Israel in April, ostensibly to talk about their natural gas company, but in reality to organize a meeting between GIULIANI and ZELENSKY. It went badly and Kolomoisky denounced the two men in an interview, leading GIULIANI to tweet that his clients had been "defamed."
Nazar Kholodnytsky, a PROSECUTOR
Kholodnytsky is the head of Ukraine’s Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, who was himself accused of corruption in the form of coaching witnesses. YOVANOVITCH called for his firing in a speech in April ahead of her ouster. He met in Paris with GIULIANI in May and has said that he believes (a) that the release of the "black ledger" that ended MANAFORT's role on the TRUMP campaign was suspicious and (b) that Burisma, the company where HUNTER served on the board, deserves to be reinvestigated.
Petro Poroshenko, a former PRESIDENT of UKRAINE
A former chocolate magnate, Poroshenko was the first president elected after the protests that caused YANUKOVYCH to flee. Both SHOKIN and LUTSENKO served as prosecutor general during his five years in office. While initially popular, by the time of the presidential election earlier this year, just 9% of Ukrainians had faith in their national government, thanks to low standards of living, rampant official corruption, and the ongoing war with Russia in the east of the country. He eventually lost his seat in a runoff to ZELENSKY.
Viktor Shokin, a former PROSECUTOR
Shokin was named prosecutor general soon after mass protests toppled the YANUKOVYCH government in 2014. Numerous Western governments — including the US — and anti-corruption groups scorned him for his failure to tackle official corruption. He at one point refused to allow the British to properly prosecute ZLOCHEVSKY. POROSHENKO fired him in 2016.
After BIDEN’s January 2018 comments, Shokin began to say the former vice president was directly responsible for his firing. In Shokin's telling, he was preparing to investigate HUNTER when he was removed from office. Shokin also recently signed an affidavit in support of FIRTASH that claimed BIDEN had prevented FIRTASH from returning to Ukraine from Vienna. There has been no evidence so far to back any of his claims.
Viktor Yanukovych, a former PRESIDENT of UKRAINE
Yanukovych took office in 2010 and attempted to play Russia and the European Union off against each other in pursuit of a better deal for Ukraine. A series of protests beginning in late 2013 led to his fleeing Ukraine for Russia in 2014. He left behind a country shocked by the level of embezzling he'd committed and set the stage for Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, as well as the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine. The new government passed laws banning most senior aides in his administration from holding office again.
Andriy Yermak, an AIDE
Yermak, a senior aide to ZELENSKY, contacted VOLKER to set up a meeting with GIULIANI earlier this year after the lawyer described Ukraine’s incoming administration as being filled with “avowed enemies” of TRUMP. He and GIULIANI met in Madrid in August. He later rejected a proposed statement written by VOLKER and SONDLAND that would have had ZELENSKY pledge to investigate Burisma and any role Ukraine played in the 2016 US presidential election, according to text messages turned over to Congress.
Mykola Zlochevsky, a BUSINESSPERSON
A former head of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources under YANUKOVYCH, Zlochevsky is the head of Burisma Holdings, the company that hired HUNTER and ARCHER to be on its board of directors in 2014. Zlochevsky was personally under investigation multiple times in recent years for alleged corruption undertaken either while running his businesses or during his time in government. He has kept a low profile during the current scandal.
Devon Archer, friend to Hunter
A frequent business partner of HUNTER's, the two participated in several investment groups together beginning in 2008, along with Chris Heinz, his former roommate and John Kerry’s stepson. Heinz later declined to join Burisma’s board with them, and they cut business ties. Archer appeared in a picture first reported on Fox News as HUNTER and JOE BIDEN golfing with Archer labeled as a "Ukrainian golf exec," a misleading description of their relationship. TRUMP later tweeted a meme of that picture using a song from the Canadian band Nickelback, which the musical group had removed due to copyright infringement.
William Barr, the ATTORNEY GENERAL
Barr was confirmed as attorney general in February 2019. TRUMP directed him in May to begin investigating the origins of the Russia investigation, an order based on a number of conspiracy theories, including that Ukraine was actually the originator of the "hoax." Barr and GIULIANI were mentioned in the July call with ZELENSKY as people whom the Ukrainian president should speak to about TRUMP’s political requests. The Department of Justice, which he heads, determined that the whistleblower's complaint did not need to be sent to Congress and that it would not open a criminal investigation related to the call, as several officials recommended following the whistleblower's complaint.
T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a COUNSELOR
Brechbuhl has served as Counselor at the State Department, a sort of high-ranking catchall role that answers to the secretary of state, since May 2018. A former classmate at West Point and business partner of POMPEO's, he has kept a low profile and focused mostly on recruitment and morale at the department. Brechbuhl was one of several top officials who were warned about the smears against YOVANOVITCH being pushed by SOLOMON and GIULIANI. He also told the State Department's inspector general that a packet of disinformation targeting YOVANOVITCH had "come over" and he had assumed it was from the White House — GIULIANI later took credit for much of the packet. Brechbuhl was named in the whistleblower's complaint as one person listening to the call with TRUMP and ZELENSKY. The State Department has denied that he was on the call, but Brechbuhl is still scheduled to give a deposition to Congress on Oct. 17.
Joseph diGenova, a LAWYER and husband to Toensing
DiGenova became a name in Washington — along with TOENSING, his wife and a fellow lawyer — during the Bill Clinton administration. The two were nearly part of TRUMP's personal legal team during the Russia investigation, but they had to withdraw due to conflicts of interest involving their previous clients. He and TOENSING have been frequent panelists on Fox News. In one appearance, he denounced YOVANOVITCH by name; in another, he called whistleblowers "suicide bombers" who are committing "regicide." DiGenova has also been a vocal advocate of numerous "deep state" conspiracy theories. Fox News reported on Sept. 29 that the two lawyers had also been assisting GIULIANI in efforts to uncover dirt on BIDEN — the three have all denied the accusation. DiGenova and TOENSING joined FIRTASH's legal team in July, according to the Ukrainian's former lawyer. They have also hired PARNAS to be a translator on that case.
John Dowd, a LAWYER
Dowd, a former Justice Department attorney and Washington power lawyer, entered TRUMP’s orbit in 2017 when he agreed to serve on the president's legal team in the Russia investigation. He resigned from that role in 2018 due to disagreements with TRUMP over strategy. Dowd confirmed on Oct. 2 that he had been hired to represent PARNAS and FRUMAN. In a letter to Congress to push back on a request for documents related to the impeachment investigation, which was written in Comic Sans, Dowd noted that PARNAS and FRUMAN assisted GIULIANI during “his representation of President TRUMP.” The letter laid out several other relationships and noted that his clients had also retained GIULIANI for legal work in their personal and business work. Dowd also said that his clients assisted DIGENOVA and TOENSING in their legal practice. That would render many of the documents requested protected under attorney–client privilege, Dowd argued.
Igor Fruman, an alleged ROGUE
Fruman, a Belorussian American living in Florida, worked alongside PARNAS to dig up material that could both disprove Russia's involvement in the 2016 US election and damage BIDEN's chances in 2020. The two eventually connected GIULIANI with LUTSENKO, ahead of the prosecutor announcing that he would reopen an investigation into the company where HUNTER was a board member.
Fruman and PARNAS both spent lavishly in Ukraine and the US during their work, despite having many debts. A mortgage that Fruman took out on a condo he owned provided much of the money that PARNAS spent to finance their travel and numerous donations to Republican campaigns. FIRTASH also reportedly funded unspecified work of theirs in Ukraine.
The two met often with GIULIANI in Washington at TRUMP's hotel in the city. Fruman and PARNAS were arrested at Dulles International Airport on Oct. 10 on charges related to alleged campaign finance violations. Both held one-way tickets to Vienna, where FIRTASH is fighting extradition.
Fiona Hill, a SCHOLAR
Hill was a surprise pick to serve in the TRUMP administration, having spent her time outside of government researching a Russia at the Brookings Institute. But as senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council, she managed to get in, push for a tougher line on countering Moscow, and get out. She resigned from the White House just days before TRUMP’s call with ZELENSKY. She testified in front of the three congressional committees conducting the impeachment inquiry on Oct. 14. During her 10 hour deposition, she reportedly said that she confronted SONDLAND about GIULIANI's activities in Ukraine, which did were not coordinated with the appropriate officials.
Paul Manafort, a CONVICT
Manafort had already made a name for himself for his political operative work in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas when he became TRUMP’s campaign chair in May 2016. The appearance of a ledger showing that he made millions of dollars off the official books while working for YANUKOVICH forced him to resign in August of that same year. He later became convinced his downfall was the work of the Democratic Party partnering with Ukrainian officials and told as much to GIULIANI during the transition. GIULIANI and TRUMP have been interested in Ukraine's role in the 2016 election ever since.
He is currently serving a little under seven years in jail after being convicted in multiple cases involving a series of financial crimes related to his work overseas. He still reportedly communicates with GIULIANI about Ukraine while in jail via his lawyer.
Lev Parnas, an alleged ROGUE
Parnas, a Ukrainian American living in Florida, reportedly knew GIULIANI loosely through Republican circles and in 2018 hired GIULIANI to work for his company, Fraud Guarantee, for which he said he paid the former mayor hundreds of thousands of dollars. The two then began to work on Ukraine-related issues.
It was Parnas who first connected GIULIANI to SHOKIN as part of his and FRUMAN’s mission to find people and information that could be useful in disputing the Russia investigation — which he expected would play into BARR’s investigation — and possibly damage BIDEN’s election chances. While there, the two of them also promoted the natural gas company that they had founded. YOVANOVITCH stood in the way of their plans, and they were key in the push to remove her from office.
Parnas and FRUMAN traveled to Israel over the summer to meet with KOLOMOISKY, under the pretense of talking about their gas company, to try to arrange a meeting between GIULIANI and ZELENSKY.
Rick Perry, the SECRETARY of ENERGY
Perry heads the Department of Energy and was the lead US official present at ZELENSKY’s inauguration in May, after TRUMP told PENCE not to attend. SONDLAND previously referred to himself, VOLKER, and Perry as the “Three Amigos” on Ukraine policy. While he has denied involvement in GIULIANI’s efforts to produce political dirt, he has reportedly pushed to have US oil executives from his home state of Texas join Ukraine’s national energy company. TRUMP also reportedly blamed Perry for his taking the call with ZELENSKY at all. He has been subpoenaed by the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.
Mike Pence, the VICE PRESIDENT of AMERICA
Pence was originally going to attend ZELENSKY’s inauguration in May, but TRUMP instructed him to hang back in favor of PERRY leading the delegation. He eventually did sit down with ZELENSKY in Poland on the sidelines of a conference on Sept. 1. Pence was instructed to cite corruption in Ukraine as a reason the US was withholding military aid, but sources close to him have said he either did not read the transcript of the call or did not appreciate it. He has further attempted to distance himself from the scandal, refusing to confirm whether he was aware of the effort to take down BIDEN.
Mike Pompeo, the SECRETARY of STATE
Pompeo went from being a member of Congress from Kansas to TRUMP’s first CIA director to his second secretary of state, forming a firm bond with the president along the way. He was one of the officials who listened in on TRUMP and ZELENSKY’s call in July, he admitted on Oct. 2, after previously avoiding a direct answer. While some have said that Pompeo worked to shield YOVANOVITCH from GIULIANI’s campaign against her, he still allowed her to be removed from her post. He has also attempted to prevent officials in the State Department — including SONDLAND and YOVANOVITCH — from testifying to Congress but appears to be losing that battle.
John Solomon, a SCRIBE
Solomon spent years working for the Hill, a Washington, DC–based publication that focuses on politics. More recently, he became a primary author of “investigative” work into the alleged Ukrainian role in the 2016 election. Beginning in March 2019, he authored reports citing LUTSENKO, among others, that claimed BIDEN had pressured SHOKIN to be fired, that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 election, and that YOVANOVITCH had obstructed Ukrainian law enforcement. These works were all referenced in the whistleblower’s complaint, though Solomon was not named. Solomon has since left the Hill and was recently revealed to have emailed his writing to DIGENOVA, PARNAS, and TOENSING ahead of publication.
Gordon Sondland, a HOTELIER
A hotel owner who spent $1 million on TRUMP’s inauguration, Sondland was named US ambassador to the European Union. Despite Ukraine not being an EU member, he became a point person on managing Washington’s relationship with Kyiv. He reportedly plans to tell Congress that in an Oval Office meeting after ZELENSKY's inauguration, TRUMP told him, VOLKER, and PERRY that a meeting between the US and Ukrainian presidents would not happen without GIULIANI's approval. Text messages between him and VOLKER show his efforts to push the 2016 Ukraine interference conspiracy and lean on Ukraine to investigate Burisma — though he intends to tell Congress he did not know this was a reference to HUNTER.
Sondland will reportedly also tell Congress he called the president before texting TAYLOR that there was “no quid pro quo” at work in Ukraine. TRUMP has cited that text message as proof that he did nothing wrong. Ron Johnson, a GOP senator, has said that Sondland told him that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo in effect, but that TRUMP denied it when confronted.
The State Department blocked Sondland from testifying to Congress about his role in the withholding of US aid to Ukraine, but his lawyer informed the House that he will take part in questioning Oct. 16.
William Taylor, a DIPLOMAT
A respected career foreign service officer, Taylor has been the chargé d'affaires of the US Embassy in Ukraine since YOVANOVITCH was recalled in late April. In text messages provided to Congress, he appears to question VOLKER and SONDLAND’s position toward ZELENSKY. After news that the US was withholding military aid to Ukraine broke, Taylor texted: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” A week later, days before the aid was finally released, Taylor wrote, “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” SONDLAND then called TRUMP before responding to Taylor five hours later to state that there was “no quid pro quo” at work. He is expected to appear before Congress in the coming weeks.
Victoria Toensing, a LAWYER and diGenova's wife
A Washington lawyer who practices with her husband, DIGENOVA, Toensing is a frequent TRUMP defender on Fox News. She was originally meant to go to Ukraine with GIULIANI in May, a trip that marked the first time his activities in Ukraine were reported. That trip was eventually canceled.
She and her husband were named by Fox News as aiding in the effort to dig up political dirt on BIDEN, with only TRUMP aware of their activities. She has met with LUTSENKO in the past about his claims related to BIDEN and said her trip in May was to help the incoming ZELENSKY administration “promptly understand what [LUTSENKO is] trying to do.” She has also pushed SOLOMON’s reporting on Ukraine’s supposed role in the 2016 US election.
She currently is a lawyer on FIRTASH’s legal team, along with DIGENOVA. The two of them hired PARNAS to do translation work on the case — he also was reportedly instrumental in setting up meetings she had previously had in Ukraine.
Kurt Volker, an EMISSARY
A former foreign service officer, legislative staffer, and US ambassador to NATO, Volker was named the US’s special representative for Ukraine negotiations in 2017. In that role, he said that he worked to help moderate GIULIANI’s influence on the president and US–Ukraine relations. He resigned from his post Sept. 27, clearing the way for his appearance before the House on Oct. 3. The text messages he provided to Congress show that he was aware of the administration’s attempts to push Ukraine on Burisma and conspiracies related to the 2016 US presidential election, and his coordination with SONDLAND.
Marie Yovanovitch, an AMBASSADOR
Yovanovitch was US ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 until she was recalled home from her post in late April 2019, two months earlier than expected. During her time in Kyiv, she reportedly got into disputes with LUTSENKO over his reluctance to push anti-corruption cases. In turn, LUTSENKO claimed that she had provided him with a list of people he was not allowed to target, though he later recanted this accusation. GIULIANI also pushed for her removal using accusations dug up through PARNAS and FRUMAN and articles written by SOLOMON. PARNAS and FRUMAN visited Rep. Pete Sessions’ office in May, who, that same day, sent a letter to POMPEO to seek YOVANOVITCH’s dismissal — they later each donated the maximum individual contribution to SESSIONS’ reelection campaign. TRUMP would go on to personally order her removal.