Parnas: I Delivered Threat Over Biden Investigation

Giuilani associate says Trump 'knew exactly what was going on'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2020 6:52 AM CST
Parnas: Trump 'Knew Exactly What Was Going On'
Rudy Giuliani arrives at a Mar-a-Lago New Year's Eve party, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in Palm Beach, Fla.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Lev Parnas, the Rudy Giuliani associate indicted for campaign finance violations, dropped more than one bombshell in an MSNBC interview Wednesday night. The Florida businessman told Rachel Maddow that he pressured Ukraine's president to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden—and President Trump "knew exactly what was going on." "I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the president," Parnas said. He said he told then-president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky that if no investigation of the Bidens was announced, no American officials would attend his inauguration and all American military aid would be cut off.

  • Pence ordered to stay away. The day after Parnas said he delivered the message to Zelensky, the State Department announced that Mike Pence would no longer be attending the inauguration, the AP reports. Parnas said Trump ordered Pence to stay away after Giuliani told the president that it would show Ukraine's new administration that the Biden request had to be taken seriously. Parnas said he was acting under the direction of Giuliani, whom he regularly heard briefing Trump over the phone.

  • Dems release more on Parnas connection. House Democrats released a trove of new documents showing Parnas' connections to Giuliani's shadow foreign policy in Ukraine, the Washington Post reports. Parnas attended functions with top Republicans and Trump family members, and enlisted an official at a pro-Trump super PAC to promote stories from Ukraine, including a claim that there had been a plot to help Hillary Clinton.
  • His "biggest regret." Parnas says he regrets helping the Ukraine pressure campaign—and trusting Trump and Giuliani. "My biggest regret is trusting so much," Parnas, who is now seeking to cooperate with prosecutors, tells the New York Times. "I thought I was being a patriot and helping the president" and "thought by listening to the president and his attorney that I couldn’t possibly get in trouble or do anything wrong," he says.
  • Giuliani "feels sorry for him." Giuliani said Wednesday that he "felt sorry" for Parnas and thought it was "sad" that he was sharing documents with House investigators because he wanted "attention." Giuliani has denied that he agreed to represent Parnas and Igor Fruman, another associate, so their Ukraine activities would be protected by attorney-client privilege.
  • Calls for investigation. There have been calls to investigate reports that Trump donor Robert Hyde said he was in touch with people who were monitoring Marie Yovanovitch, the US ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted last year, the Guardian reports. "If it’s real, it’s outrageous,” says John Herbst, Yovanovitch's predecessor. "Masha Yovanovitch is a real pro. She was used to being surveilled by the FSB [Russian intelligence], but if she’s being surveilled by a private American, that is truly dark side activity."
  • Hyde's shady history. The AP has more on Hyde, who is running for a House seat in Connecticut. He has "extensive financial and legal problems" and was ordered to turn over five firearms in July because of a protection order. The following week, members of a church asked police to tell Hyde to stay away because of his "unsettling behavior and political campaigning." He was escorted from the Trump National Doral golf club in May and sent for a mental health evaluation after claiming hit men, possibly disguised as landscapers, were "out to get him."
(More Trump impeachment stories.)

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