Lev Parnas offers impeachment investigators "hard evidence" of Trump administration wrongdoing

Parnas is begging to testify as top Ukrainian official puts him at Giuliani meeting central to impeachment probe

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published November 22, 2019 3:57PM (EST)

Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump and Lev Parnas (Getty Images/Salon)
Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump and Lev Parnas (Getty Images/Salon)

The attorney of Lev Parnas, the indicted Rudy Giuliani associate who helped him try to drum up an investigation into Joe Biden in Ukraine, is pleading for impeachment investigators to let Parnas tell his side of the story and vowed to deliver “hard evidence” of wrongdoing by the Trump administration.

Parnas was indicted alongside partner Igor Fruman last month on charges that they illegally funneled foreign money into U.S. elections. The two vowed to stonewall impeachment investigators after being issued a subpoena, but Parnas had a change of heart after President Donald Trump claimed not to know him even though they had met numerous times. Parnas fired former Trump attorney John Dowd and hired lawyer Joseph Bondy, who announced that Parnas wants to testify to investigators.

Bondy tweeted on Thursday that Parnas has “been producing materials” to the House Intelligence Committee pursuant to the subpoena. “We’re hopeful the Committee will finally schedule a time to meet us and arrange to hear his testimony,” he added.

“He has material, first-hand evidence,” Bondy tweeted. He later added that Parnas has “hard -- HARD -- first hand evidence.”

The plea from Bondy came on the same day that Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky who has been frequently mentioned at the impeachment hearings, revealed to The Daily Beast that Parnas accompanied Giuliani during a meeting in Madrid. Bondy confirmed the meeting to the outlet.

“Mr. Parnas traveled to Madrid to meet Rudolph Giuliani, where he attended Rudolph’s meeting with Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak, and witnessed Rudolph pressuring Yermak on behalf of President Trump to compel Zelensky to announce that his administration was launching a corruption investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden and alleged Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election,” he said in a statement.

Giuliani told the outlet that the claims from his own indicted associate and the top Ukrainian official were “just another attempt to attack me over bull” and to distract from what he baselessly described as Democratic corruption.

Giuliani previously acknowledged meeting Yermak in Madrid to discuss the investigations Trump had pressed for in an interview with The Washington Post. After the meeting, Yermak began working on a statement for Zelensky to publicly announce the investigations.

“Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky,” European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

Yermak’s statement puts Parnas at the center of the coordinated effort that prompted the impeachment inquiry. Bondy, fellow Parnas attorney Ed MacMahon, and Parnas’ associates have told media outlets that Parnas has far more to share.

On Wednesday, MacMahon told The Daily Beast that Parnas helped Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, with his investigations into the origins of former special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation.

The Justice Department’s indictment of Parnas also put him at the heart of a smear campaign that led to the ouster of Ukrainian Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch. Parnas told associates that he personally convinced Trump to fire Yovanovitch during a small fundraising dinner at Trump’s Washington, D.C. hotel, The Washington Post reported.

Parnas’ associates also told CNN that he bragged that Trump personally tasked him with a “secret mission” at last year’s White House Hanukkah party to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens.

Shortly after that, Parnas and Fruman met top Ukrainian officials and offered a White House state dinner in exchange for a public announcement of the investigations Trump and Giuliani had pressed for, according to The Wall Street Journal.

After Zelensky’s election in May, Bondy told The New York Times, Parnas told a Zelensky aide that military aid to the country would be blocked and Vice President Mike Pence would not appear at his inauguration unless the investigations were announced. (Fruman and Giuliani deny this.) Pence later abruptly pulled out of the inauguration trip.

While Parnas is likely hoping that cooperation with the impeachment probe will lead to leniency in his criminal case, MacMahon told The Daily Beast that Parnas’ decision to cooperate with the investigation was triggered entirely by Trump’s claim that he did not know him.

“President Trump’s recent and regrettable disavowal of Mr. Parnas has caused him to rethink his involvement and the true reasons for his having been recruited to participate in the President’s activities,” MacMahon said. “Mr. Parnas is prepared to testify completely and accurately about his involvement in the President and Rudy Giuliani’s quid pro quo demands of Ukraine.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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