For Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American businessman living in Florida, 2018 was a busy year.
Sometime around March, he began showing up at Republican fund-raisers. Then, in late April, he dined on cheeseburgers and wedge salads with President Donald J. Trump.
By May, a fledgling energy company that Mr. Parnas started with a partner, Igor Fruman, was listed as giving $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC. Soon, Mr. Parnas was assisting President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, as he oversaw a shadow diplomacy campaign to investigate Joseph R. Biden Jr., then a leading Democratic presidential candidate.
Within a year, Mr. Parnas was under investigation, and in late 2019 he was arrested with Mr. Fruman at Dulles International Airport, where both held one-way tickets on a Lufthansa Airlines flight to Frankfurt.
Now, Mr. Parnas is facing a trial on campaign finance charges that include contributions to the super PAC and a state candidate in Nevada, where he wanted to operate a cannabis business. And though the case has little to do with his dealings with the former president — who was not accused of wrongdoing in the matter — Mr. Trump’s shadow hangs over Mr. Parnas’s trial, which begins Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.
The trial is expected to fill in gaps in the story of Mr. Parnas’s improbable ascent and downfall, from humble beginnings in Brooklyn to playing a key role in a sequence of events connected to the impeachment of Mr. Trump over accusations…