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Lev Parnas: "President Trump knew exactly what was going on"

Parnas implicates Trump in Ukraine scandal
Parnas implicates Trump in Ukraine scandal 05:15

Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, said Wednesday night the president was fully aware of what he and associate Igor Fruman were doing in Ukraine. Parnas made the comments during an interview with Rachel Maddow, in which he also leveled allegations against Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General William Barr. 

In the clip, Maddow asked Parnas about the "main inaccuracy or the main lie that is being told that you feel like you can correct?" 

"That the president didn't know what was going on," Parnas replied. 

"President Trump knew exactly what was going on," Parnas said. "He was aware of all of my movements. He- I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president."

He also stated that Trump was lying when he said he didn't know Parnas or Fruman. "He lied," Parnas said.

Parnas and Fruman are accused of helping Giuliani in his attempts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine. Parnas, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, and Fruman, originally from Belarus, were arrested on campaign finance charges at Dulles International Airport in October.

In the interview, Parnas alleged that he was given specific instructions by Giuliani to inform Ukrainian government officials that the United States would withhold aid unless the Ukrainian government announced it was opening an investigation into the the Bidens.

"It wasn't just military aid. It was all aid," Parnas said. He also claimed that Giuliani told Ukrainian officials that Parnas was there as a representative of both himself and Mr. Trump, and that Ukrainian officials understood he was speaking on behalf of Mr. Trump.

Giuliani denied that claim while the interview was airing.

Parnas also denied Mr. Trump's claim that he was trying to end corruption in Ukraine. 

"It was never about corruption. It was specifically about Burisma," he said.

Parnas also implicated Pence, claiming the vice president also went to Ukraine in an effort to force government officials to announce an investigation into the Bidens. Pence's planned trip to attend the inauguration of the Ukrainian president was canceled as a result of Pence's inability to get Ukraine to announce the investigation, Parnas claimed.

Parnas also claimed that Barr was aware of what was transpiring.

"Mr. Barr had to have known everything," he said.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said that claim is "100% false."

House Democrats on Tuesday released documents Parnas turned over to the House Intelligence Committee. Among those documents was a handwritten note by Parnas which read "get Zalensky [sic] to announce that the Biden case will be investigated." The note is an apparent reference to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who Mr. Trump is accused of pressuring to investigate his political rivals.

In addition to the handwritten document, screenshots of messages on the encrypted phone messaging app Whatsapp appeared to show that Parnas and a third associate, Republican donor and congressional candidate Robert F. Hyde, were tracking the movements of former United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. 

Giuliani denied having any knowledge of such a scheme.

Hyde on Wednesday denied tracking Yovanovitch's movements, claiming he was joking.

"We just sent some colorful texts, you know, had a few pops say back when I used to drink" Hyde said in a phone interview on Eric Bolling's Facebook show America This Week.

"We were playing, I thought we were playing," Hyde continued. "I didn't know he was, I didn't know he was so serious." 

Bolling asked Hyde outright, "Did you have eyes on Marie Yovanovitch," 

"Absolutely not," Hyde responded. "Are you kidding me?"

Parnas agreed with Hyde's framing in his interview with Maddow.

"I don't believe it's true. I believe he was either drunk or was trying to make himself bigger than he was," Parnas explained. He also said because he didn't take Hyde or his claims seriously, he never believed Yovanovitch was in any sort of physical danger.

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