Since House Democrats released new evidence Tuesday evening from their investigation into the Trump administration’s Ukraine “pressure” campaign. Evidence Democrats say requires further investigation. The primary source of those materials, Lev Parnas — a former Rudy Giuliani associate who has been indicted on charges of funneling foreign money to Republicans — has been making the media rounds and leveling new accusations, including that U.S. Attorney General William Barr was “absolutely” in on the Ukraine scheme. The State Department has responded unequivocally to Parnas’s claim.
Parnas appeared on MSNBC’s “Maddow” Wednesday, where host Rachel Maddow asked him to discuss the various allegations included in the Democrats’ eleventh-hour document dump. “It’s been reported as far as we understand from public reporting that you conveyed to [senior Zelensky aide Sergey] Schafer the exact quid pro quo that you wanted Zelensky to announce investigations into Joe Biden or military aid would not be released to Ukraine. Is that accurate?” asked Maddow, as reported by Mediaite.
“Basically, the message that I was supposed to, that I gave Sergei Shaffer was a very harsh message that was told to me to give it to him in a very harsh way, not a pleasant way,” he said.
Asked who gave him the order, Parnas said, “Mayor Giuliani. Rudy told me after, you know, meeting the president at the White House. The message was it wasn’t just military aid, it was all aid. Basically their relationships would be sour, that we would stop giving them any kind of aid. … Unless — there were several demands at that point. A, the most important was the announcement of the Biden investigation.”
Parnas went on to claim that President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser John Bolton, and Attorney General Barr were all “in the loop” on the Ukraine “shakedown” scheme.
Asked for comment by Maddow’s show on Parnas’s claim about Barr being “absolutely” in on “the effort to get the Ukrainians to announce an investigation of Vice President Joe Biden,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec responded, flatly, “100% false.”
In a follow-up discussion with the Washington Examiner, Kupec reiterated the adamant response. “Kupec told the Washington Examiner that there was no truth to Parnas’s claims,” the outlet reports. “She added that the Justice Department’s position ‘has not changed’ since September, when the Ukraine controversy first broke through a whistleblower complaint and when the agency emphatically distanced itself from Giuliani’s foray into Ukraine in a lengthy statement.”
After Trump released the transcript of his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he said Barr would follow up about the investigations he mentioned, the Justice Department fired off a statement making clear Trump had never spoken with the attorney general about the matter.
“The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son, and the President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine — on this or any other matter,” the statement read. “The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.”
During his interview with Maddow Wednesday, Parnas also accused the president of knowing “exactly” what was going on with the Giuliani-led effort in Ukraine.
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” Parnas told Maddow. “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. I mean, they have no reason to speak to me. Why would President Zelenskiy’s inner circle or Minister Avakov or all these people or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that’s the secret that they’re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work.”