Lev Parnas: Ukraine scheme was always about the Bidens, ‘never about corruption’

Lev Parnas: Ukraine scheme was always about the Bidens, 'never about corruption'.

Lev Parnas: Ukraine scheme was always about the Bidens, ‘never about corruption’

January 15, 2020
In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, contradicted President Trump’s claims that he decided to withhold millions in military aid to Ukraine last summer because he was concerned about corruption in the country.

“It was never about corruption,” Parnas said. “It was strictly about Burisma, which included Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.” During a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked him to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter, who recently served on the board for Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company. This conversation was central to Trump’s impeachment charges.

Parnas worked with Giuliani in Ukraine, setting up meetings as Giuliani attempted to dig up dirt on the Bidens. Parnas said Trump “lied” when he said he didn’t know him, and they had many one-on-one conversations. Parnas has been indicted on felony campaign finance violation charges, and told Maddow he decided to speak to her because “I want to get the truth out. I feel it’s important for our country. I think it’s important for me.” Catherine Garcia

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Lev Parnas denies tracking Marie Yovanovitch in Kyiv, says she was never ‘in danger’

12:57 a.m.
Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, is trying to distance himself from Robert Hyde, a Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut and “weird character.”

“He’s a weird individual,” Parnas reiterated to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow during an interview Wednesday. On Tuesday, new evidence Parnas had turned over to House impeachment investigators was made public, including text messages between Parnas and Hyde. They appeared to show the men were tracking former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s movements in Kyiv, noting when she was at her computer and the status of her security situation.

A former federal prosecutor on Tuesday tweeted it sounded like they were plotting “a mob hit” against Yovanovitch, but Parnas scoffed at the idea that Yovanovitch was under surveillance. He claimed he never worried she was “in danger,” because Hyde was “drunk all the time.” Parnas met Hyde at a Trump hotel bar, where he was “a fixture,” and he said he “didn’t take him seriously. I didn’t even respond to him most of the time.”

Parnas was part of the smear campaign to get Yovanovitch removed from her post, and he told Maddow he badmouthed her to Trump, claiming she was saying nasty things about him. “I don’t believe it, and that’s why I want to apologize for it,” he said. Parnas also alleged the only reason why he and Giuliani wanted Yovanovitch fired was because she opposed the effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. “That was the only motivation,” he said. “There was no other motivation.” Catherine Garcia

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Lev Parnas wants to unload his dirt on Rudy Giuliani to federal prosecutors, his lawyer says

12:41 a.m.

Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images
Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani in his Ukraine endeavors, “completed his break with the White House on Wednesday, asserting for the first time in public that the president was fully aware of the efforts to dig up damaging information on his behalf,” The New York Times reported late Wednesday. And Parnas said through his lawyer that he’s now eager to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan who are investigating Giuliani, President Trump’s person lawyer, and Giuliani’s Ukraine dealings now at the center of Trump’s impeachment.

Parnas was arrested in October on tangentially related campaign finance charges, and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have both his case and the so-far-unannounced Giuliani investigation. “We very much want to be heard in the Southern District,” Parnas lawyer Joseph Bondy told the Times. “We very much want to provide substantial assistance to the government.” Parnas has provided evidence already to federal prosecutors and House impeachment investigators, and he spoke with both the Times and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday.

Parnas told Maddow that “Trump knew exactly what was going on.” He told the Times that while he met with the president several times, he knows Trump was aware of the Ukraine efforts because Giuliani credibly assured him so. He provided some evidence to back that up. “I am betting my whole life that Trump knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine,” Parnas said.

Parnas also said he regrets his involvement in the Ukraine affair and “trusting so much” in Giuliani, who is a godfather to his son. “I thought I was being a patriot and helping the president,” he told the Times, and he “thought by listening to the president and his attorney that I couldn’t possibly get in trouble or do anything wrong.” Giuliani texted the Times that Parnas is “a proven liar,” suggested he’s turning over evidence for “attention,” and claimed it’s “sad to watch how the Trump haters are using” him. Peter Weber

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Mike Pence ‘couldn’t have not known’ about Ukraine pressure campaign, Lev Parnas claims

January 15, 2020

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Lev Parnas told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that he is “100 percent” certain Vice President Mike Pence canceled his trip to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration last spring because Ukraine refused to announce it was investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, was indicted last year on campaign finance violations. Giuliani traveled extensively to Ukraine to try to find damaging information on Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and his son, who served on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

Parnas told Maddow that he was directed by Giuliani to deliver a “very harsh message” to Sergey Schafer, a senior Zelensky aide. He was told to make it clear that the U.S. would withhold all aid to Ukraine unless several demands were met. “A, the most important was the announcement of the Biden investigation,” Parnas said. The day after Parnas met with Schafer, Pence canceled his scheduled trip to Ukraine.

Parnas said he knows “100 percent” that the visit was called off in retaliation for Ukraine not going along with demands the country investigate the Bidens. “The chain of events, that was key to where we are today,” he said. “After that, take a look at what transpires. Next within the next couple days, they realize that now they got word. Obviously when Pence cancels, they get word. So now they realize that what I was telling them was true.” Pence “couldn’t have not known” about the pressure campaign, Parnas alleges, as “everybody was in the loop.” Catherine Garcia

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Lev Parnas: Devin Nunes was ‘involved in getting all this stuff on Biden’

January 15, 2020
Lev Parnas said he was “in shock” when he saw Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) participating in President Trump’s impeachment hearings late last year, because he knew Nunes was linked to the very scandal that launched the inquiry.

Parnas, an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, has been charged with campaign finance violations. He told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday he did not have “much of a relationship” with Nunes, but they did meet “several times” at a Trump hotel. Nunes had “something to do with the Ethics Committee, so he couldn’t be in the spotlight,” so he introduced Parnas to his aide, Derek Harvey. Nunes, Parnas explained, “was looking into this Ukraine stuff also, wanted to help out. And they gave me Derek Harvey to deal with.”

Parnas told Maddow he did not have to brief Harvey on Giuliani’s attempts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, because Harvey “knew about it already. He had a lot of information already.”

Nunes is the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, which led the impeachment investigation. Parnas said he was “in shock when I was watching the hearings and I saw Devin Nunes sitting up there. There was a picture of Derek Harvey back there, sitting. I texted my attorney because I couldn’t believe this was happening.” They were “involved in getting all of this stuff on Biden,” Parnas said, adding that he set up Skype interviews between Harvey and Ukrainian prosecutors who claimed to have damaging information about Biden. It was “hard to see them lie like that,” Parnas said. “It’s scary. [Nunes] knew very well that he knew what was going on, what was happening. He knows who I am.”

Nunes previously said he couldn’t “recall” having a phone conversation with Parnas, but during an interview with Fox News conducted at the same time the Parnas interview was airing on MSNBC, Nunes said he “remembered that call, which was very odd and random.” Catherine Garcia

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Lev Parnas says Attorney General William Barr was ‘basically on the team’

January 15, 2020
Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, says he told Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash that in exchange for information that could discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, he would try to stop Firtash’s extradition to the U.S. to face corruption charges.

Firtash, who is believed to have ties to the Russian mob, was in Vienna fighting extradition. During an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, Parnas said he was told Firtash’s camp claimed to have evidence that one of Mueller’s prosecutors was doing some “illegal stuff,” and he was tasked with securing this evidence. John Solomon, a conservative columnist who pushed conspiracy theories, gave him documentation to show Firtash he “was in the loop,” Parnas said.

Parnas conveyed to Firtash that they believed he “was being prosecuted for no reason,” and “basically, it could be taken care of,” meaning they could stop the extradition. Parnas then worked to get conservative husband-and-wife lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova on Firtash’s legal team. Toensing and diGenova, staunch supporters of President Trump, also represent Solomon. Parnas said he was told to negotiate $1 million for the couple, plus $100,000 a month in expenses. He received $200,000.

Giuliani, meanwhile, was working in Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and Parnas said they wanted Firtash to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into the Bidens. Parnas told Maddow he was “involved” in conversations Giuliani and diGenova had with Attorney General William Barr, and Barr “absolutely” knew of the effort to get Ukraine to announce the investigation. “Mr. Barr had to have known everything,” he said. “Victoria, Joe, they were all best friends. Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.” A Justice Department spokeswoman told Maddow that Parnas’ account is “100 percent false.” Catherine Garcia

Wisconsin pastor worries some congregation members worship Trump more than Jesus

January 15, 2020

Chris Kleponis – Pool/Getty Images
President Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by a margin of only .77 percent, and ahead of the November election, Democrats and Republicans are keeping a close eye on the 19 counties that backed former President Barack Obama in 2012 and switched to Trump four years later.

In rural Forest County, Pastor Franz Gerber of the Praise Chapel Community Church said he voted for Trump four years ago, as abortion is his biggest issue. Now, he told The Guardian, if he “had the opportunity again, I may vote differently. I would perhaps vote for someone who’s not part of the major two parties. I would feel that my conscience would feel maybe a little bit cleaner had I gone that route.”

Most of his congregation members are Republicans, and he is worried that a good portion of them appear to revere Trump more than they worship Jesus. “It seems like there are many evangelical Christians that are willing to die on the hill of supporting the Republican president, supporting Donald J. Trump,” Gerber told The Guardian. “And to me, that hill is not worth dying on. No matter who the candidate is, no matter who the individual is. To put all your hope into that individual is a dangerous road. Scripture would warn us against that.”

Trump’s dalliances don’t bother most “churchgoing people,” Terri Burl, chair of the Howard County GOP, told The Guardian. “People always say, look at how he treats people, his affairs, how he cheated on his wife. People like me say, I’m not voting for him to be my pastor, my father, my role model. I’m voting for him to get some things done in Washington, D.C., that have never been done before. We forgive him because of other things.”

Gerber said he is using his sermons to remind his congregation the importance of listening to each other and acceptance. “Ultimately, our allegiance is to God, not to a political party, not to a figure within that political party,” he added. Read more at The Guardian. Catherine Garcia

Breaking news
Indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas says Trump ‘knew exactly what was going on’

January 15, 2020
Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani who worked to open doors for him in Ukraine, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that his actions weren’t a secret.

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” he said. “He was aware of all my movements. 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 was arrested last fall and charged with campaign finance violations. Along with his business partner Igor Fruman, Parnas helped set up meetings for Giuliani with Ukrainian officials while Giuliani was looking to dig up dirt on a Trump political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching an investigation into the Bidens and the Democratic National Committee is central to the impeachment articles passed by the House.

Zelensky and other leaders “have no reason to speak to me,” Parnas told Maddow, adding, “Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that’s the secret they’re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work.” Catherine Garcia

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The Week · by Authors · January 15, 2020

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