Lev Parnas, a close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, claimed in a series of interviews that aired on Wednesday and Thursday that the president and top aides were aware of and on board with the plot to use Ukraine to torpedo former Vice President Joe Biden’s chances in the 2020 election.
Parnas made the claims on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, CNN’s New Day, and to the New York Times.
“I am betting my whole life that Trump knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine,” Parnas told the Times.
Giuliani sent Parnas and Parnas’ associate Igor Fruman to Ukraine in February 2019 to dig up dirt on Biden and his son Hunter and Hunter’s role in Ukrainian gas firm Burisma. The pair collected as much information as they could for Giuliani and then returned to the U.S., Parnas said.
"He lied," Parnas says of President Trump's denial that he knows him. "He knew exactly who we were. He knew exactly who I was especially because I interacted with him at a lot of events… I was with Rudy when he would speak to the president — plenty of times." pic.twitter.com/Y3D51xtSTi
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 16, 2020
“It was all about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden,” Parnas said in the MSNBC interview. “It was never about corruption. It was never — it was strictly about Burisma, which included Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”
As the Times reported, Parnas was certain that the president was on board with the scheme:
During the interview with the Times, as well as in a taped interview Mr. Parnas gave on Wednesday to the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, Mr. Parnas emphasized that he was always acting on behalf of Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani.
When asked by the Times how he knew that Mr. Trump was aware of the pressure campaign, he said that Mr. Giuliani assured him that was the case.
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” Parnas told MSNBC. “He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.”
Parnas also said that Attorney General Bill Barr, Vice President Mike Pence, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton were involved in and aware of the plot.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), one of the impeachment managers in the House, was also in on the scheme, Parnas said.
“He knew what was happening,” said Parnas. “He knows who I am.”
The White House has denied Parnas’ allegations. That denial did not convince progressive advocacy group Indivisible.
“At this point, is there anyone we shouldn’t impeach?” Indivisible tweeted.
At this point, is there anyone we shouldn't impeach? This interview is one for the history books. https://t.co/BLNmkRz1bf
— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) January 16, 2020
Some observers, however, urged caution on taking Parnas’ claims at face value.
“I would be skeptical of anything Parnas says that isn’t substantiated with evidence,” tweeted The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer. “There appears to be a lot of it, though.”