Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born, Florida-based businessman who is described as a “client” by Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says he will cooperate with the impeachment inquiry against the president. On Sunday, Parnas, through his lawyer, revealed that his testimony could contain a bombshell that would directly implicate Trump’s lawyer in the attempt to strong-arm Ukraine, according to a New York Times report.
Trump, according to the testimony of multiple witnesses, withheld badly-needed military aid from Ukraine, demanding that they announce an investigation of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden before he would release the aid.
Now, Parnas says that he delivered that message personally to a representative of new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenky in May, shortly before Zelensky’s inauguration, according to the NYT report on Sunday.
A lawyer for the indicted businessman revealed that Parnas told the Zelensky representative that unless the new president announced the Biden investigation, the U.S. would “freeze” military aid, and Vice President Mike Pence would refuse to attend Zelensky’s inauguration.
If true, the claim by Parnas “challenges the narrative of events” in the Ukraine scandal at the heart of the impeachment process, according to the NYT. Trump has sought to portray the entire scandal as stemming from a single phone call between himself and Zelensky on July 25, a call he repeatedly describes as “perfect.”
Giuliani told the NYT that he “categorically” denies that he told Parnas to make the threat in the May meeting. Igor Fruman, another Giuliani associate who was arrested and indicted with Parnas, has also denied that Parnas made the threat.
“The dispute represents the clearest indication yet that Mr. Parnas, who was indicted along with Mr. Fruman last month on campaign finance charges, has turned on Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani,” according to the NYT report.
The new claim by Parnas comes just two days after a report that Parnas and Fruman conveyed a similar message to Ukraine’s previous president, Petro Poroshenko, in February. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the pair told Poroshenko that he would be rewarded with an official state visit to the White House if he agreed to announce an investigation of Biden.
Parnas and Fruman have been described as Giuliani’s “fixers.” The pair, together and individually, have been linked to Trump not only through Giuliani, but though multiple photographs in which they are seen posing alongside the president.
The pair also reportedly dined at the White House with Trump, but the president has denied that he knows either Parnas or Fruman.