The widely anticipated interview between former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow aired on Wednesday evening, and included a number of notable revelations that left many people stunned, especially on social media.
Parnas admitted to Maddow he was in Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, who is hoping to run against President Donald Trump in the general election for president later this year. He also sought to get Ukraine leaders to specifically announce an investigation into Biden in order to make him look bad politically.
Several other names were implicated in the Ukraine scandal by Parnas in his interview, including Attorney General William Barr, Rep. Devin Nunes, and Vice President Mike Pence, whom Parnas said had to have known about the situation in Ukraine, including the president’s alleged ambitions to get the investigation announced to benefit him in a political way, Talking Points Memo reported.
It would have been impossible for Pence not to have known, Parnas said. For instance, Pence had been originally assigned to take part in Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration ceremony, but canceled his appearance.
The announcement came the day after Parnas spoke with a Ukraine official and made the threat that Pence would cancel unless the Biden investigation would be announced. That official said no, and when Parnas relayed the message back to Giuliani, he said to Parnas, “okay, they’ll see,” according to reporting from The Daily Beast.
“Do you know if Vice President Pence was aware that that was the quid pro quo?” Maddow asked Parnas.
Quoting EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony this fall to House investigators, Parnas responded, “Everybody was in the loop.”
But among the most damaging pieces of information Parnas gave in the interview was the fact that he said Trump knew all along who he was — and what he was doing in Ukraine on his behalf.
That contradicts what Trump said in October, when he denied even knowing who Parnas is (several photographs of the two together at social functions have since surfaced).
“Now it’s possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody,” Trump said of Parnas and his associate, Igor Fruman. “Somebody said there may be a picture or something at a fundraiser, or somewhere, but I have pictures with everybody.”
Trump made the public denial after both Fruman and Parnas were arrested by federal officials for violating campaign finance laws, USA Today reported.
In the interview Wednesday night, Parnas said Trump’s denials were inaccurate. “He knew exactly who I was especially because I interacted with him at a lot of events,” Parnas said.
When Maddow asked if there was a main inaccuracy or a “main lie” that Parnas wanted to correct, he volunteered freely that Trump alleging that he didn’t know what was going on was a lie.
“President Trump knew exactly what was going on, he was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president,” Parnas said.
The interview aired on the same day that the House of Representatives transmitted articles of impeachment of Trump to the Senate, which will initiate a Senate impeachment trial for the president, most likely starting next week. Documents from Parnas detailing his interactions with Giuliani and Trump were submitted to the House this week, which means that House managers will likely bring them up during the trial when that occurs.
Whether Parnas himself testifies at the Senate trial or not is still anyone’s guess, as Senators could vote to allow new witness testimony. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has adamantly opposed allowing new witnesses during the Senate trial.