'It Was Never About Corruption': Giuliani Associate Says Trump Was Involved in Ukraine Scandal

He also implicated Vice President Mike Pence and Rep. Devin Nunes.


An associate of Rudy Giuliani said this week that "President Trump knew exactly what was going on" in reference to a secret campaign to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce investigations into Trump's political rivals. 

In a Wednesday evening interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Lev Parnas, who was born in Ukraine and is now a naturalized U.S. citizen, disputed the idea that Trump was unaware of his and Giuliani's efforts to compromise Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden. Parnas said that the "main lie" he can correct is that "Trump didn't know" about their actions in Ukraine. Both Parnas and Giuliani, who is Trump's personal lawyer, are implicated in efforts to have Zelenskiy publicly announce probes into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. In December, the House of Representatives impeached Trump for the scandal.

"It was never about corruption," said Parnas.

Parnas is currently under indictment for multiple campaign finance violations, which include allegedly making hundreds of thousands of illegal straw donations to a super PAC that supported Trump. 

"I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials," Parnas told Maddow. "I mean, they have no reason to speak to me. Why would President Zelenskiy's inner circle or Minister Avakov or all these people or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that's the secret that they're trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work."

His statements coincide with documents released by House Democrats on Tuesday, which provide additional evidence that Trump was aware of Giuliani's actions. The records include a letter from Giuliani to Zelenskiy in which Trump's lawyer requests a meeting and says the president has "knowledge and consent" of his efforts. Also among the documents was a handwritten note from Parnas that says, "get Zalensky to Annouce that the Biden case will Be Investigated." 

Democrats are likely to highlight evidence of that suggests Trump knew about the efforts to persuade Zelenskiy, particularly since Republicans have repeatedly claimed in congressional hearings that the president could have been unaware and therefore not directly involved with the effort. 

Parnas told Maddow that Vice President Mike Pence was also aware of the situation and that he canceled his trip to attend Zelenskiy's inauguration because the Ukrainian leader had not yet agreed to publicly announce the probes into the Bidens. Parnas further said that he worked with Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Calif.) and one of his close aides to secure the investigations; he noted that he was surprised to see Nunes front-and-center at the House impeachment hearings because he was "involved in getting all this stuff." Nunes admitted Wednesday that he spoke with Parnas, but characterized him as a "person who doesn't tell the truth."

And while he says he never communicated directly with Attorney General Bill Barr, Parnas claimed that he was privy to "lots of conversations" between Giuliani and Barr that the two had in front of Parnas. "Mr. Barr had to have known everything. I mean, it's impossible," Parnas told Maddow. "Attorney General Barr was basically on the team."

The articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. His Senate trial is likely to start next week, where he is expected to be acquitted.

NEXT: Trump's Trade Deal With China Is Better Than a Trade War With China. But a $200 Billion Question Remains.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. Billy never heard of the adage too good to be true. The only person Parnas failed to mention was Reagans ghost.

    2. Billy and the non-Libertarians grasp onto any political accusation to get rid of Trump.

      Now they want to get rid of Pence.

      Then Pelosi can be President and name her VP, Hillary Clinton.

      I can tell you right now, that this attempted coup of Trump was the last straw for many people. There is no next time.

      The US Senate wont remove Trump and he will be reelected by an even wider margin in 2020, fair and square.

  1. Billy, moron, ask yourself this, Parnas says that he was over there looking to “compromise Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden.”

    Okay, then how?

    Why would one go to Ukraine looking for something that could compromise Joe Biden?

    Could it be his son having been installed at Burisma? Could it be Joe using the power of the US and a billion dollars to get a prosecutor to stop investigating the company his son was installed in? Could that installation possible be payback for using that influence?

    Could Joe Biden have admitted this all publicly on video?


    Is that corruption?

    Apparently, to the leftists in media and government, no. Corruption is getting someone to look into all this blatant criminality because it could implicate Democrats.

    1. ^^^ Perfectly summarized!!!!!!

    2. One thing that is assured is that this last ditch effort by Democrats will blow up in their faces like all their other attempts to coup Trump.

      Election 2020
      Pee tape
      All those legacy Democrat bureaucrats
      Lefty judges
      Sanctuary cities
      Black Face Cannuck PM
      Xi Poo
      Lefty Propagandists
      Lefty Academia

    3. Biden did not brag that he “got a prosecutor to stop investigating the company his son was installed in.” We’ve all seen the video by this point; why do people keep telling this lie? Shokin was not investigating Burisma, or corruption at all, which is why everyone wanted him out. Meaning, if anything, firing Shokin could have made things worse for Hunter, not better. Biden also could not have taken this action himself–does anyone spreading this lie even know what the Vice President does or how little power they have? It’s Uranium One all over again–the idea that all these separate agencies got together to take an action to help one person benefit financially. At least this is slightly less stupid than Uranium One, since in that case, there’s no evidence Hillary Clinton even voted on the deal.

  2. “The records include a letter from Giuliani to Zelenskiy in which Trump’s lawyer requests a meeting and says the president has “knowledge and consent” of his efforts. Also among the documents was a handwritten note from Parnas that says, ‘get Zalensky to Announce that the Biden case will Be Investigated.'”

    The Wire – Welcome to the New Day Co-Op (YouTube)

  3. 2020 elections are going to be epic.

  4. Well, we’ll just add this to the shit we’re going to use for Trump’s next impeachment, no need to blow it all on the first one.

  5. Chapter 1,956 of The Walls Are Closing In.

  6. This is like someone finding a hand-written note from Joe Podesta saying “Send the classified material through Hillary’s bathroom server. She has full knowledge and consent.”

    Smells a little like Rathergate.

    1. written on a hand towel monogrammed with HRC

  7. Are we really going with “presidential frontrunner” as the label for Biden?

    I mean, sure, he’s leading the polls now. But was he leading then? And more to the point, is he really the frontrunner? It is a big field. And he is by far the most well-known commodity in the field. He’s essentially the DNC incumbent. He easily has the best name recognition.

    And yet…. a strong majority of Democrat primary likely voters do not prefer Biden. Sanders, Warren and a couple of others are splitting up the hard progressive/communist vote. Biden likely has the old guy vote locked up to go alongside the black vote. But that’s about it. The proggies have no love for him. He ain’t killin’ it among women. Or young voters.

    I suppose you could argue that once the field narrows down, Democrat voters will coalesce around the front-running Biden. But either Warren or Sanders dropping out would likely pass all of their voters to the other – pushing Biden into second. Who has votes that would otherwise go to Biden? I just don’t see it.

  8. This would be seen as a problem except its not illegal to ask a foreign nation to look into criminal activity be another American in that country

    1. They weren’t just asking. They were using their public offices and tax money to pressure Ukraine. That’s the problem and the huge difference.

      1. So much pressure the Ukraine didnt know until an article in Politico.

        1. And so much pressure they never actually made the announcement.

        2. You’re just stupid. Ukraine’s new govt knew exactly what Trump wanted from them. They were promising to do it and then backing out which is why Trump was putting pressure on them.

          1. I’m not stupid. You’re stupid. Nyah nyah.

          2. You base your information on what exactly? I’ll go with the testimony of officials in Ukraine. You?

          3. Did I miss the announcement?

            1. Zelensky had scheduled an appearance on CNN where he was to make an announcement before the whistleblower came forward. Then Trump released the aid because he got caught, and Zelensky cancelled.


      2. “…They were using their public offices and tax money to pressure Ukraine…”

        Well, shucks, let’s just throw the money at ’em and then ask, right? No-strings-attached foreign aid?

        1. The strings are supposed to be substantially related to the purpose of the aid. If the president had evidence the aid would be misused, he could have notified Congress and legally withheld it. That’s what the law says. But there is no reasonable connection between military aid to fight Russian invasion and an investigation into the Bidens. None has even been put forward by a single defender of the president, because no such connection exists. Meaning it was a corrupt and personal ask.

      3. Its not wrong to out tax money and the office that gives that money to look into crimes before giving money. Thats how all national transactions between governments work.

        1. How convenient that the only “crimes” Trump wanted them to look into were ones that would benefit his political narrative.

    2. Before the 2016 election, Quid Pro Quo Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion of U.S. Loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders didn’t fire their top prosecutor who was investigating his son, Hunter!

      Hunter Biden received millions from China, Russia and Ukraine! He was paid $80,000 per month to sit on the Board of a Ukrainian energy company!

      Were Joe’s and Hunter’s overlapping interests in Ukraine criminal?

      Somebody needs to check this out!

      America First!

      1. Shokin was not investigating Hunter.

    3. There’s more evidence that Hunter Biden was the beneficiary of nepotism than the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to hack the 2016 election.

      For one thing, Hunter Biden actually got a job, and the Russia thing never happened.

  9. This whole impeachment thing is like the final scenes of Jackson’s Return of the King
    Can it just be over already? I have to use the restroom

    1. Lol.
      Saw that one in the theater.
      I stood up 4 times to leave thinking it was over

  10. VP Pence? Seriously? We’re to believe that he is in on it. Mr. Mega-Morals? The guy with a wife who teaches at Christian day-school? The same guy who will not dine with women outside of his wife’s presence?

    I’m sorry, but that just does not compute. That has to be bullshit.

    1. The guys who fly planes into buildings are also extremely religious. To me it’s more of a sign of a weak mind then of a strong moral character but that’s not to say there aren’t slightly delusional but otherwise good Christians and Muslims out there.

      1. Yes. You’re a bigot. We understand.

    2. It kind of speaks to the ability of Donald Trump to corrupt all those around him.

      1. It speaks to nothing of the sort. It is nothing but slander.

    3. He went to work for Trump and helps him lie on a daily basis.

  11. When is the next Binion article on whomever Alex Jones is interviewing next? They will be just as credible.

    1. “Parnas is currently under indictment for multiple campaign finance violations, which include allegedly making hundreds of thousands of illegal straw donations to a super PAC that supported Trump. ”

      Billy missed the charges for false testimony and fabricating evidence? My shocked face.

      This is Cohen version 2.

      1. IIRC Reason fell hard for Avenatti, too.

        They just can’t help themselves.

        1. Avenatti was the gift that kept giving, for the comedy value alone.

    2. No shit, he was on Madcow. Jones has more credibility.

  12. Everything that comes up has been second-hand and not admissible in a regular court.

    1. Not even close. These mfers will all be indicted or pardoned sooner or later.

      1. “…These mfers will all be indicted or pardoned sooner or later.”

        This mfer

      2. You’re, like, a big faker, like OBL, right? You can cut the thickheadedness with a knife. Impressive!

    2. And in this case a piece of paper written at anytime without signatures and notorized is useless

  13. dude looks like he lives in the fridge.

    1. You have a weird fridge.

      1. maybe they were keeping him on ice until necessary?

        1. I think they keep them in larva pens. I mean, come on, “Lev Parnas”? That’s obviously not a real name, not hard to figure out it’s an anagram for something. Of course, it could also be “Rev A’s Plan”. Hmmmmm.

          1. You’re not funny. This shit ain’t funny.

            1. Your fear is hilarious.

            2. “…This shit ain’t funny.”

              You’re right, it isn’t.
              Impeaching Trump for winning that election is pathetic.

            3. Anal pervs. Now that’s some scary shit!

              1. Damn! Missed that one.

                1. Some are born to greatness…

                2. you should maybe be happy about that

  14. By the way… is billy now blatantly ignoring the house testimony?

    Croft: The President was skeptical of providing weapons to Ukraine.

    Q: Why?

    A: When this was discussed, including in front of the Ukrainian delegation, in fnont of President Poroshenko, he described his concerns being that Ukraine was corrupt, that it was capable of being a very rich country, and that the United States shouldn’t pay for it, but instead, we should be providing aid through loans.

    1. Yeah I’m sure the massive corruption in Saudi Arabia keeps Trump up at night.

    2. So you dont understand ongoing sales versus new sales? On you also dont understand sales versus giving? Are you able to comprehend what you read? Let me help: “the United States shouldn’t pay for it, but instead, we should be providing aid through loans.”

      1. It wasn’t up to Trump to withhold the congressionally authorized money. Trump is not a king. He’s supposed to enforce the laws that are enacted by Congress. And I don’t believe for one second this was about fighting corruption in Ukraine. They were bringing the corruption to Ukraine. The whole scheme to force Zelensky to announce an investigation is corruption. You don’t buy criminal investigations.

        1. He didn’t withhold it. It went through normal procedures as seen by the holds to Lebanon and others. This was testified to. OMB released a memo in december stating as much.

          Look. I know ignorance is your strong point. But all weapon sales and military sales go through state or Pentagon review. This is part of the export import laws Congress has passed. It is the duty of the executive to follow these laws. You seem ignorant to this.

          1. OMB is lying. There is evidence that many people in the OMB knew they were breaking the law as this process was happening. Ukraine had been reviewed and was found to be making progress in fighting corruption. If Trump cared about fighting corruption at all, he would have asked about issues other than Biden and Crowdstrike–two conspiracy theories that benefited him personally.


        2. Oh and it doesnt fucking matter what you believe, you’re a nobody.

  15. The other thing is I hope the Republicans sweep this under the rug and “forget all about it” bec

    1. ecause these people should be criminally prosecuted. Impeachment, while important, is politics.

      1. You should seek help.
        Or don’t; we can hope your case is terminal.

  16. Beautiful! With both Trump and Pence impeached, Pelosi will be president. The deep state is winning BIG as Trumpo says!????

    1. And then she can choose Hillary as her VP and resign, giving her her turn now.

  17. I’m not sure if Maddow can afford to lose another 500,000 viewers when this winner tanks.

    1. I think that’s her upthread as Republican Fascist Pig.

      1. They do both toss out the random DNC talking points. Her time would be better spent learning to code.

  18. Trump withheld military aid from an ally in exchange for an announcement that his likely Democratic opponent in the 2020 election was under investigation. The facts can’t be in dispute to anyone who’s not a partisan idiot.

    It is absurd to believe Donald Trump, who spent his whole career defrauding contractors, vendors, investors, customers, tax authorities, and the people, has any desire to expose corruption.

    Time to knock it off with pretending Trump is innocent.

    1. Agreed.

  19. The weeks since the article of impeachment have generally been bad for President Trump. People want a fair trial and more information detrimental to the case has come out. Now the scandal is getting bigger and may take down more people. Might be time for Republicans to get on the Mike Pence team, save him and dump the Trump albatross.

  20. Are you urgently in need of a loan, Business Loan,
    Personal Loan, Investment Loan, Home Loan, Car Loan and
    much more. We offer small, medium and large loans, same
    day approval, with a short and long-term guarantee at a
    rate of 5% per annum. Interested persons should contact
    for further information and applications via WhatsApp:
    +27638779328 Email Us:
    Best Regards Mrs.Lucy Caver

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.