- Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian associate of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that Attorney General William Barr was intricately aware of Trump’s pressure campaign in Ukraine.
- Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky while trying to strongarm Zelensky into publicly committing to investigations that would personally benefit Trump.
- Parnas told Maddow that Barr was “basically on the team” as it related to Trump’s actions in Ukraine.
- He also said Barr “absolutely” knew of Trump’s efforts to force Zelensky’s administration to publicly commit to investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over bogus allegations of corruption.
- “Mr. Barr had to have known everything,” Parnas told Maddow.
- The Justice Department has called Parnas’ account “100% false.”
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Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian associate of personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, alleged in an exclusive interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr was in the loop on President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign in Ukraine.
Trump repeatedly tried to strongarm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his deputies into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over unfounded allegations of corruption.
Trump also asked Zelensky to investigate a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting Ukraine interfered in the 2016 US presidential election to help Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
In his interview with Maddow, Parnas said Barr was “basically on the team” as it related to Trump’s actions in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian oligarch connected to Russia offered a quid pro quo involving Mueller and the DOJ
Specifically, Parnas implicated Barr in what he said was an agreement he made with Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch linked to the Kremlin, to get the Justice Department to drop fraud and bribery charges against Firtash in exchange for information to discredit former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Firtash has been charged with multiple counts of fraud and bribery. He is accused of being connected to the Russian mob and is currently in Vienna, Austria, fighting extradition to the US.
Parnas told Maddow he was told Firtash’s team had information against Andrew Weissman, one of the prosecutors working for Mueller, that could damage the Russia probe.
Parnas said he learned that information during a meeting at Trump Tower with Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova – two lawyers closely aligned with the president – as well as John Solomon, a right-wing columnist for The Hill who has published multiple stories pushing unfounded conspiracy theories about Ukraine and Russia.
Specifically, Parnas said Solomon told him Weissman was doing “illegal stuff” and had engaged in some “scandalous” interaction with Firtash that would “blow up” the Mueller probe.
Parnas also told Maddow he and Solomon conveyed to Firtash’s team that they believed he “was being prosecuted for no reason” and “basically, it could be taken care of,” which meant his extradition could be halted.
Then, Parnas told Maddow, he got Toensing and diGenova to represent Firtash as part of his legal team. Politico reported that the two lawyers also represent Solomon.
Parnas added that he was instructed to negotiate a $1 million payout for Toensing and diGenova, who are married, in addition to $100,000 per month in expenses.
Parnas got $200,000 as part of the deal.
‘Attorney General Barr was basically on the team’
Barr, for his part, refused Toensing’s and diGenova’s request to intervene in the case against Firtash.
Nevertheless, Parnas told Maddow, the attorney general was “involved” in conversations with Giuliani and diGenova and that Barr “absolutely” knew of Trump’s efforts to force Zelensky’s administration to publicly commit to investigating the Bidens.
“Mr. Barr had to have known everything,” Parnas told Maddow. “Victoria, Joe, they were all best friends. Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman told Maddow that Parnas’ account is “100% false.”