Lev Parnas, the indicted Rudy Giuliani associate at the heart of the scheme to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Democrat Joe Biden, gave an unexpected interview to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Wednesday — the day after hundreds of documents and text messages provided by Parnas were released by the House Intelligence Committee. Many of those documents appeared to implicate Donald Trump in the Ukraine scheme, and in the interview, Parnas confirmed Trump’s direct involvement.
According to evidence and documents gathered by the House Intelligence Committee, as well as by journalists at the national security site Just Security, Trump refused to send nearly $400 million in congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine unless that country’s government agreed to announce the investigation into Biden, as well as an investigation into a conspiracy theory apparently believed by Trump that claims Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has claimed that he was interested only in rooting out corruption in Ukraine and that he does not know Parnas or his business partner, Igor Fruman. But in the Wednesday Maddow interview, Parnas says Trump “lied” when he said the two were not acquainted, as seen in the video excerpt of the interview, below.
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements,” Parnas tells Maddow in the interview.
“I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President.”
Also on Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee released a new trove of text messages, voicemails, and documents that were handed over by Parnas. The newly revealed text messages appear to show a clear effort to oust the United States Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, that involved not only Parnas and Giuliani but also Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, according to a Washington Post analysis of the documents.
In the text messages released on Tuesday, Parnas is seen texting with Robert F. Hyde, a Republican campaign donor and Connecticut congressional candidate. In the texts, Hyde claims to be in contact with people in Ukraine who have placed Yovanovitch under physical surveillance — and in one of the texts Hyde appears to suggest that he could have the U.S. ambassador harmed “for a price.”
Yovanovitch had made public statements criticizing Lutsenko for his failures to prosecute corruption in Ukraine and calling for the firing of one of his top deputies due to corruption allegations. Her criticism of Lutsenko drove his vendetta toward the ambassador, according to the Post account.
The texts also show that Lutsenko claimed to possess documents that would incriminate Biden — but he refused to provide those documents to Parnas and Giuliani unless they arranged for Yovanovitch’s firing, according to the messages posted on Twitter by investigative reporter Josh Kovensky.