Rudy Giuliani buddy Lev Parnas appeared on Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, dishing about previously unknown aspects of the pressure campaign on Ukraine that’s led to the third impeachment in American history.
Speaking alongside his attorney Joe Bondy, Parnas revealed that “all aid” from the United States to the Ukraine was subject to withholding by President Trump as part of the pressure campaign.
Below are the biggest bombshells culled from Parnas’s interview on the network.
Trump knew everything
Parnas said that Trump knew “everything” that was going on.
In explicit terms, Parnas told Maddow that Trump “knew exactly who we were,” referring to himself and his associate Igor Fruman.
“He knew exactly who I was especially because I interacted with him at a lot of events,” Parnas said. Trump has denied knowing Parnas and Fruman since their October indictment on federal campaign finance charges, despite multiple photos showing them together.
“I was with Rudy when he would speak to the president — plenty of times,” Parnas added, saying that the President and his personal attorney were aware of his every “movement.”
Was Pence part of the pressure campaign?
Parnas told Maddow that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s May 2019 inauguration was, in effect, an object of the pressure campaign. The presence and level of U.S. officials at the event was allegedly held out as an indicator of whether the Ukrainian government was complying with Trump’s demands.
That included Vice President Mike Pence’s lack of attendance, which Parnas claimed occurred because Ukraine had not announced “investigations” into Biden and alleged interference against Trump during the 2016 election.
“Do you know if Vice President Pence was aware that that was the quid pro quo? That that was the trade, and that that it fact is why his inaugural visit was called off?” Maddow asked.
Parnas replied: “I’m going to use a famous quote by Mr. Sutherland [sic]: ‘everybody was in the loop’.”
Parnas also said that Trump did not only withhold military aid from Ukraine in exchange for the investigations.
“It was a heated conversation.” Parnas describes the shakedown. Announce the investigation or you get nothing. pic.twitter.com/8IMjbrYbGk
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) January 16, 2020
Rather, Parnas said, it was “all aid” to the country, which continues to wage a defensive war on its own territory against Russian-backed proxies.
“It wasn’t just military aid, it was all aid,” Parnas said.
Perhaps the most explosive element of the interview came at the very end. It has to do with Parnas’ dealing with Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian gas billionaire who has been stranded in Vienna for years as he fights extradition to the U.S. on foreign bribery charges.
Parnas told Maddow that he and Giuliani struck a deal with Firtash whereby the oligarch would provide the Trump team with information and, in exchange, the DOJ would drop the charges against the Ukrainian mogul.
“We had to promise Firtash something,” Parnas said. “It was basically telling him we knew his case is worthless here and that he’s being prosecuted for no reason and basically it could get taken care of.”
Federal prosecutors have described Firtash as an “upper-echelon” member of Russian organized crime.
“It was all connected,” Parnas said. “At the end of the day, the agenda was to make sure that the Ukrainians announced the Biden investigation.”
He went on to say that Attorney General Bill Barr was “in the loop.”
“Mr. Barr had to have known everything,” Parnas added. “Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.”
- -Hiring More Journalists
- -Providing free memberships to those who cannot afford them
- -Supporting independent, non-corporate journalism