Parnas Implicates Trump, Barr and Nunes in Ukrainian Scandal

Rudy Giuliani’s indicted associate Lev Parnas is pictured in the seat of then-Rules Committee Chairman Pete Session, R-Texas.

(CN) — As House Democrats released new impeachment evidence Wednesday night, Lev Parnas said in a TV interview that President Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with regard to the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

“He was aware of all my movements,” Parnas said on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday. “I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the president. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials.”

Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman and former associate of the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, was arrested last October on federal charges that included making illegal campaign donations.

He said in the interview that multiple people in the Trump administration knew about the attempt to bribe Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for military aid, including Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General William Barr.

“Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,” Parnas said, adding that Barr spoke frequently with Giuliani about the effort and “had to have known everything.”

Parnas said conservative attorney Victoria Toensing and Giuliani briefed Barr on the phone about their ongoing efforts to pressure Ukraine into opening an investigation.

Parnas said he delivered an ultimatum to Zelensky in May that the White House would withhold the aid and that no U.S. officials would attend his inauguration. The day after the ultimatum, the U.S. State Department announced that Pence would no longer attend the ceremony.

Trump and Republicans have long claimed that the president’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine did not represent a quid pro quo since the Ukrainian president didn’t know the money had been delayed. Parnas’ comments directly contradicts that defense.

Parnas also claimed Rep. Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, knew of the bribery attempt and was an active participant in it. Parnas claims he set up “several” meetings between Nunes’ aide Derek Harvey and Ukrainian officials.

“I was in shock when I was watching the [impeachment] hearings,” Parnas said, referring to Nunes’ participation in the investigation of the president. “Because they (Nunes and Harvey) were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden.”

After the interview aired, Rep. Ted Lieu, Calif.-D, announced on Twitter that an attorney for Nunes sent a letter threatening to sue Lieu if he “didn’t apologize for saying last month that Nunes conspired with Parnas.”

“Devin, I’m adding to my statement: ‘Your pants are on fire.'” Lieu tweeted.

Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee released more evidence Wednesday obtained from Parnas, including texts, voice mails and photos between him and those in Trump’s circle. The evidence includes several photos of Parnas with the Trump family, including Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The materials also document efforts to remove former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, including a May 9, 2018 letter from then-Rep. Pete Sessions, Tex.-R, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“I have received notice of concrete evidence from close companions that Ambassador Yovanovitch has spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current administration,” Sessions wrote in the letter.

“Is there absolute commitment for HER to be gone this week?” Toensing asked Giuliani in a February 2019 text.

“Yes, not sure how absolute. Will get a reading in morning and call you. Pompeii [sic] is now aware of it. Talked to him on Friday,” Giuliani responded.

In a trove of information released Tuesday, it appeared that Yovanovitch was under surveillance, according to text messages sent between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Trump donor and congressional candidate.

“The messages suggest a possible risk to Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s security in Kyiv before she was recalled from her post last year,” Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “These threats occurred at the same time that the two men were also discussing President Trump’s efforts, through Rudy Giuliani, to smear the ambassador’s reputation.”

President Trump was impeached by the House last month. His trial in the Senate starts Thursday.

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