‘Trump lied,’ says Lev Parnas, and Mike Pence knew it all too
As part of Donald Trump’s inner circle dealing with Ukraine, Parnas is ready, willing, able — and already spilling the beans
Washington — Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, accused US President Donald Trump of lying for saying that he didn’t know what Parnas and Giuliani were doing in Ukraine.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, Parnas said, “I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” he said in the interview, which was broadcast on the same day that Democrat members of the US House walked across the Capitol to deliver the two impeachment articles against Trump to the Republican-controlled Senate.
Trump denied knowing Parnas after he and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were charged with campaign finance violations in October, although there are photographs of the three men together.
Parnas worked with Giuliani to dig up political dirt in Ukraine on former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
In the interview, his first since he was charged, Parnas said he was instructed by Giuliani to tell Ukrainian officials that all US aid to Ukraine would be withheld if Ukraine didn’t announce an investigation into the Bidens.
Parnas said he was working as part of Trump’s legal team and that Giuliani would tell Ukrainian officials that Parnas was working on behalf of Trump so the Ukrainians would take him seriously. He also said that vice-president Mike Pence was directed to try to secure an agreement from the Ukrainians during a meeting in early September.
Parnas said a trip that Pence was scheduled to make to attend the inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelensky was canceled because Trump was mad that the Ukrainians hadn’t announced an investigation.
Parnas did not provide evidence of his accusations against Trump or his administration. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Wednesday night.
Parnas’s lawyer received permission from the judge in his case to give documents related to Ukraine to a House committee this week. Some of that material prompted House foreign affairs chair Eliot Engel to demand information from the state department regarding possible security risks to US embassy personnel in Kiev, including former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut, were “exchanging apparently highly sensitive information regarding the whereabouts of and security protocols” for Yovanovitch when she was ambassador, Engel wrote. The exchanges took place in March 2019.
The House released additional documents from Parnas on its website on Wednesday, including text and phone messages. In messages released on Tuesday, Hyde suggested that someone had Yovanovitch under surveillance near Kiev.
“They will let me know when she’s on the move,” he wrote to Parnas. Minutes later, Hyde wrote, “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price.” He added, “Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money ... What I was told.”
The next day Hyde wrote, “my contacts are asking what is the next step because they cannot keep going to check people will start to ask questions”.
A lawyer for Yovanovitch called for an investigation.
“Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing,” the lawyer, Lawrence Robbins, said on Tuesday night. “We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.”
Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent as part of an active investigation into his financial dealings, according to three US officials.