Lev Parnas, 47, dropped a bombshell during his January 15 interview with Rachel Maddow that could further implicate President Donald Trump in his Ukraine scandal. Parnas, an associate of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and a witness in the impeachment trial said that the president knew “exactly what was going on” when he asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, and that there were more threats to Ukraine than what had previously been revealed. Here’s what we know about Ukrainian-born Parnas, his association with Giuliani, and what he’s revealed about the Ukraine scandal so far:
1. He was indicted for campaign finance law violations in 2019. Parnas and Igor Fruman, another associate, were both arrested in October while attempting to board a one-way international flight in DC, just hours after dining with Giuliani. Parnas was accused of allegedly concealing assets, including a $1 million payment from a Russian oligarch in September. The oligarch is tied to Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; Manafort was convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account in 2018, and is currently serving four years in prison. Parnas pleaded not guilty to charges of “conspiring to make contributions in connection with federal elections in the names of others, and with making false statements to and falsifying records to obstruct the administration of a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission.”
Parnas and Fruman were also charged along with two other defendants, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, in an “indictment alleging that each of the defendants conspired to violate the ban on foreign donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections,” according to the Department of Justice. Parnas is currently out on bail.
2. He runs a company literally called “Fraud Guarantee.” Parnas and Fruman operated a company in South Florida called Fraud Guarantee, a firm that protects clients from financial crimes. They gave the company the ironic name in an attempt to throw off online searches about their fraud allegations. Fraud Guarantee shuttered after the company didn’t pay office rent. As John Oliver put it after their arrest, calling their company Fraud Guarantee was “essentially the equivalent of owning an extermination business called ‘Mouse Promise.’”
"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
3. He claims Trump “knew exactly what was going on” in Ukraine. Parnas said that the president is essentially playing dumb about pressuring Ukraine to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. “Trump knew what was going on,” Parnas told Maddow twice during their January 15 interview. He also stated that he would not act without “the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president,” and said that Trump was lying when he claimed he doesn’t know Parnas.
4. He claimed Trump threatened to withhold more than just military aid from Ukraine. “The message was: It wasn’t just military aid. It was all aid,” he said. “Basically the relationship would be sour. We would stop giving them any kind of aid.” That is, unless Ukraine investigated the Bidens for Trump. This contradicts (again) Trump’s claim that there was no quid pro quo during his phone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
5 He implicated Attorney General William Barr and Vice President Mike Pence. This scandal, according to Parnas, goes all the way from the top down. “Barr had to have known everything. Attorney General Barr was basically on the team,” he said of the campaign to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens, saying that Giuliani told Barr about the events. As for Pence? “Everyone was in the loop.”
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