The Slatest

Giuliani Associate Claims He Pressured Ukrainian Government to Investigate Bidens

Lev Parnas reads a brief statement to the press as he exits federal court following an arraignment hearing on October 23, 2019 in New York City.
Lev Parnas reads a brief statement to the press as he exits federal court following an arraignment hearing on October 23, 2019 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

An associate of Rudy Giuliani’s traveled to Kiev shortly before the new Ukrainian president was set to be inaugurated in May with a clear message: if you don’t announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Vice President Mike Pence won’t come to the swearing-in ceremony of Volodymyr Zelensky. The New York Times reveals that the claim is being made by Lev Parnas, one of two Giuliani associates who were indicted on campaign finance charges last month. It is the clearest indication yet that Parnas has turned against both President Donald Trump and Giuliani. The allegation, which Parnas is getting ready to share with impeachment investigators, is explosive but is being denied by many of those directly involved.

Parnas claims, through his lawyer, he told a high-ranking representative from the newly elected Ukrainian government that failing to announce an investigation into the Bidens wouldn’t just cost them Pence’s attendance at the inauguration, it would also mean a freeze in U.S. aid. And he claims to have done so under Giuliani’s direction. It would mark the earliest instance of pressuring the new Ukrainian government to take action that could help Trump politically and would also directly link Giuliani to that action. But Giuliani denies it. “Categorically, I did not tell him to say that,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani isn’t alone in denying the allegation. Parnas’ business partner, Igor Fruman, also denied that what Parnas says is true. According to Fruman, they were only seeking to set up a meeting with the new president. “There was no mention of any terms, military aid or whatever they are talking about it — it’s false,” one of Fruman’s lawyers said. The Ukraininina official they met with, Serhiy Shefir, also denies the allegation, saying that while the meeting did take place, the issue of military aid was not brought up. Shefir did not directly respond to the other claims, including whether Pence’s attendance at the inauguration was discussed during the meeting. Pence did not ultimately attend the inauguration.

These latest revelations come shortly after the Wall Street Journal reported that Parnas and Fruman had in February pushed the then-president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, to launch an investigation into Biden.