WASHINGTON (AP) — A close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani will be claiming Trump was directly involved inside effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Lev Parnas says he delivered an ultimatum in May, at Giuliani’s behest, to the incoming president of Ukraine which no senior U.S. officials might attend his inauguration along with vital American security aid might be withheld if an investigation into Biden wasn’t announced.
He said Trump was aware of Giuliani’s efforts to secure an investigation along with the president was briefed regularly.
If true, Parnas’ account undercuts a key Republican defense of Trump during the impeachment investigation — which Trump’s withholding of vital military aid to Ukraine last summer wasn’t a quid pro quo for Biden investigations.
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on,” said Parnas, a Soviet-born Florida businessman facing a raft of criminal charges related to campaign finance violations. “He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President.”
Parnas made several potentially explosive claims in a televised interview Wednesday night with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The day after Parnas said he delivered the message, the State Department announced which Vice President Mike Pence might no longer be attending the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy.
Parnas alleged which Trump ordered Pence to stay away at the behest of Giuliani to send a clear message to the incoming Ukrainian administration which they needed to take seriously the demand for an investigation into Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate seen as a potential threat to Trump’s 2020 reelection.
Parnas said every communication he had with Zelenskiy’s team was at the direction of Giuliani, whom he regularly overheard briefing Trump about their progress by phone.
Giuliani called Parnas’ statements “sad.”
“I feel sorry for him,” Giuliani said Wednesday in a text message to an AP reporter. “I thought he was an honorable man. I was wrong.”
Asked directly if Parnas was lying, Trump’s lawyer replied, “I’m not responding yet.”
Parnas said he also heard Giuliani along with another Trump-aligned defense lawyer, Victoria Toensing, briefing Attorney General William Barr by phone about their efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce the investigation into Biden along with his son Hunter’s business dealings.
“Barr was basically on the team,” Parnas said.
The Justice Department said in September which Trump had not spoken to Barr about having Ukraine investigate the Bidens along with which the attorney general had not discussed Ukraine with Giuliani. Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Wednesday which Parnas’ claims were “100% false.”
The brand new accusations came as House Democrats made public a trove of documents, text messages along with photos via Parnas’ smartphones which appear to verify parts of his account.
A federal judge earlier which month ruled which Parnas could provide the materials to Congress as part of the impeachment proceedings. Democrats voted in December to impeach Trump for abuse of power along with for obstruction of Congress.
A House committee chairman said Wednesday his panel will investigate what he says are “profoundly alarming” text messages among the newly disclosed materials which have raised questions about the possible surveillance of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch before she was ousted by the Trump administration last spring.
The messages show which a Robert F. Hyde, a Republican candidate for Congress via Connecticut, disparaged Yovanovitch in messages to Parnas along with gave him updates on her location along with cellphone use.
Rep. Eliot Engel, a brand new York Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday which the messages are “profoundly alarming” along with “suggest a possible risk” to Yovanovitch’s security in Kyiv before she was recalled via her post.
“These threats occurred at the same time which the two men were also discussing President Trump’s efforts, through Rudy Giuliani, to smear the ambassador’s reputation,” Engel said.
He said the committee staff flagged the information for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security along with will be seeking assurances which proper steps have been taken to ensure the security of Yovanovitch along with committee staff. He said he also wanted to know what, if anything, the State Department knew about the situation.
“which unprecedented threat to our diplomats must be thoroughly investigated along with, if warranted, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Engel said.
Democrats released the files which week as they prepared to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for Trump’s trial. The documents could add pressure on the Senate as which debates whether to hear witnesses inside trial.
The text along with phone records show Parnas communicating with Giuliani multiple times a day before Yovanovitch’s removal, as well as a handwritten note which mentions asking Ukraine’s president to investigate “the Biden case.”
Among the documents will be a screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter via Giuliani to Zelenskiy dated May 10, 2019, which was shortly after Zelenskiy was elected although before he took office. inside letter, Giuliani requests a meeting with Zelenskiy “as personal counsel to President Trump along with with his knowledge along with consent.”
The Associated Press reported in October which Zelenskiy had huddled three days earlier, on May 7, having a little group of key advisers in Kyiv to seek advice about how to navigate the insistence via Trump along with Giuliani for a probe into the Bidens. He expressed his unease about becoming entangled inside American elections, according to three people familiar with the details of the three-hour meeting. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, which has roiled U.S.-Ukrainian relations.
One of the documents released by Democrats will be a handwritten note on stationery via the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna which says “get Zalensky to Annonce which the Biden case will be Investigated.”
Parnas told Maddow he took the notes as he was speaking by phone to Giuliani, receiving precise instructions about the demands Trump wanted to convey to Zelenskiy’s team.
Trump asked Zelenskiy in a July 25 call to investigate the Bidens. Hunter Biden served on the board of a gas company based in Ukraine.
The documents were sent to the House Judiciary Committee by three different House panels “to be included as part of the official record which will be transmitted to the Senate along with the Articles of Impeachment,” according to a statement. Some of the materials were made public while others were blacked out along with marked as sensitive.
Parnas along with his business partner, Igor Fruman, both U.S. citizens who emigrated via the former Soviet Union, were indicted last year on charges of conspiracy, creating false statements along with falsification of records. Prosecutors allege they made outsize campaign donations to Republican causes after receiving millions of dollars originating via Russia. The men have pleaded not guilty.
Parnas’ lawyer, Joseph Bondy, told The brand new York Times which his client will be looking to cooperate with prosecutors in his case, who are investigating Giuliani along with his dealings in Ukraine.
“We very much want to provide substantial assistance to the government,” Bondy told the Times.
Parnas told the newspaper which although he didn’t speak with Trump directly about the efforts, he met with the president on several occasions along with was told by Giuliani which Trump was kept inside loop.
In several of the documents, Parnas communicated with Giuliani about the removal of Yovanovitch. The ambassador’s ouster, ordered by Trump, was at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Yovanovitch testified inside House impeachment hearings which she was the victim of a “smear campaign.”
Trump on the July call told Zelenskiy which Yovanovitch was “going to go through some things.” She had been recalled via her diplomatic post roughly three months earlier.
On April 23, just before Yovanovitch was directed to return to the United States, Giuliani texted Parnas, “He fired her again.” Parnas texted back, “I pray which happens which time I’ll call you tomorrow my brother.”
Parnas also received messages via Hyde, who referred to Yovanovitch as a “bitch.”
After texting about the ambassador, Hyde gave Parnas detailed updates which suggested he was watching her. In one text, Hyde wrote: “She’s talked to three people. Her phone will be off. Her computer will be off.” He said she was under heavy security along with “we have a person inside.”
Hyde texted Parnas which ″they are willing to help if we/you might like a cost,” along with “guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money … will be what I was told.”
Parnas texted back: “lol.”
Lawrence Robbins, an attorney for Yovanovitch, called for an investigation into the messages.
In a Twitter post Tuesday, Hyde called Parnas a “dweeb” along with suggested the messages about surveilling the ambassador were a joke. He said he welcomed an investigation.
Parnas, in turn, also said Wednesday which Hyde’s texts shouldn’t be taken seriously.
The text messages show which Parnas consulted Giuliani in January 2019 after the U.S. denied a visa to former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Giuliani replied: “I can revive which.”
The following day, Giuliani told Parnas, “which’s going to work I have no 1 in which.” Giuliani then predicted “he will get one,” before giving Parnas the phone number for Jay Sekulow, the leader of the president’s personal legal team. Sekulow will be supposed to be part of Trump’s legal team during the impeachment trial.
Trump has repeatedly denied knowing Parnas along with Fruman, despite numerous photos which have emerged of the men together. Among the materials released via Parnas’ phone which week were more photos of him with Trump, as well as the president’s son Donald Trump Jr., first daughter Ivanka Trump, along with her husband, Jared Kushner.
Asked by Maddow about Trump’s denials of knowing him, Parnas said he had spoken one-on-one with the president numerous times.
“He lied,” Parnas said of the president. “I mean, we’re not friends. Me along with him didn’t watch football games together, we didn’t eat hot dogs. although he knew exactly who we were, who I was especially.”
Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Lisa Mascaro along with Zeke Miller contributed to which report.
, http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DrudgeReportFeed/~3/E_K-Isv5Lus/708b81d4c77038eb0b751c30f72ff315, 16 January 2020 | 12:49 pm
Source : Trump had knowledge of Ukraine pressure