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Five takeaways from Parnas’s Maddow interview

Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas revealed new accusations against President Trump and his administration in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday night. 

A day after the House published evidence provided by Parnas for the Senate impeachment trial, Parnas unveiled his take on what has been going on behind the scenes with the White House’s Ukraine policy.

Giuliani’s associate connected Trump directly to the controversy and pressure campaign in Ukraine to get the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who sat on the board of the Ukrainian company Burisma.

Parnas, who was indicted for and pleaded not guilty to campaign law violations last year, is reportedly looking for ways to work with the prosecutors in his case, who are seeking more details on Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine.

Here are some of the accusations that Parnas made: 

1. He claimed Trump threatened to withhold more than just military aid from Ukraine

Parnas claimed that the president threatened to withhold all aid from Ukraine if it did not publicly announce an investigation into the Bidens, and he delivered that “very harsh message” to Ukrainian officials on behalf of Giuliani and Trump.

“The message was: It wasn’t just military aid. It was all aid,” he said. “Basically the relationship would be sour. We would stop giving them any kind of aid.”

The associate to the president’s personal attorney said the aid was clearly contingent on U.S. demands, primarily the launch of an investigation into the Bidens. Parnas’s claims counter what Trump has said, which is that there was no explicit quid pro quo between him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

2. He implicated Attorney General Barr, saying he “had to have known everything”

Giuliani’s associate continued by connecting Attorney General Bill Barr to the pressure campaign, saying that Giuliani had contacted the attorney general about the attempts to get Ukraine to announce a Biden investigation 

“Barr had to have known everything,” he said. “Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.” 

A Justice Department spokesperson told Maddow that the claim was “100 percent false.” The spokesperson repeated the same statement to The Hill.

3. “Trump knew exactly what was going on”

Parnas also directly connected Trump to the Ukraine pressure campaign to investigate the Bidens, saying the president “knew exactly what was going on.”

Maddow asked Parnas about that “main inaccuracy or the main lie being told” that he felt he could correct.

He responded: “That the president didn’t know what was going on. President Trump knew exactly what was going on.”

Parnas continued, saying that he would not act without “the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president,” and added that Trump’s claim that he doesn’t know Parnas is a lie.

4. He alleged Pence skipped Zelenksy’s inauguration because of Ukraine pressure campaign

Parnas accused Vice President Mike Pence of being in the know, adding that the vice president’s planned trip to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy’s inauguration was canceled because the country refused to announce a Biden investigation.

“Oh, I know 100 percent,” Parnas said. “It was 100 percent.”

When Maddow asked if the vice president knew his visit was involved in a “quid pro quo,” Parnas quoted Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s comments during the impeachment inquiry: “Everybody was in the loop.”

Marc Short, the chief of staff for Pence’s office, said in a statement to The Hill that Democrats have contradicted Parnas’s statements from his interviews when testifying under oath.

“This is very simple: Lev Parnas is under a multi-count indictment and will say anything to anybody who will listen in hopes of staying out of prison,” Short said. “It’s no surprise that only the liberal media is listening to him.”

5. He asserted that the Ukraine campaign “was never about corruption [but] strictly about Burisma”

Giuliani’s associate also claimed that the White House’s call for a Ukrainian investigation “was never about corruption.” Instead, it was focused solely on Burisma.

“And that was another thing that they were looking into, but it was never about corruption,” Parnas said. “It was never — it was strictly about Burisma, which included Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”

Parnas’s assertion negates the White House’s claims that the administration was attempting to root out corruption when Trump asked Zelensky to examine Biden’s past.

Updated Thursday at 8:01 a.m.

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