Former Trump associate Lev Parnas estimates he spends half of his waking hours on Twitter these days, talking to journalists and penning op-ed pieces in order to get out his own version of events. This follows a 20-month sentence for fraud and campaign finance crimes, thanks to a team effort in 2020 to re-elect President Donald Trump via threats to cut off U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
“I just want to get the truth out there,” 51-year-old Parnas told Kyiv Post from his home-turned-prison in Boca Raton, Florida, his somber voice contrasting with the joyful cries of his children in the background.
In a Time magazine article earlier this month, the Ukrainian-born businessman whose family immigrated to the U.S. when he was still a child, struck a remorseful note: “In 2021 and 2022, I was convicted of several serious crimes including fraud, making false statements, and illegally funneling foreign money to the Trump campaign. I was sentenced to 20 months in prison, served four, and am on home-confinement for the remainder. Now that I am paying my debt to society, I think it is important to tell my side of the story.”
No shortage of villains
When asked by Kyiv Post who he thought was most responsible on the Trump team for undermining Ukraine’s national security, he had a laundry list of co-conspirators, some of whom he confronts on a weekly basis on Twitter.
“Of course, the primary movers behind the pressure to destabilize Ukraine were Trump and [his attorney] Rudy Giuliani,” he said. “They threatened to withhold vital aid unless [President Volodymr] Zelensky would officially announce an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden’s activities in the country."
Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas (left) poses with his onetime associate Rudy Giuliani (right), the ex-mayor of New York City and ex-U.S. President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer. Photo: Radio Free Europe.
From 2014 to 2019 Hunter Biden, U.S. President Joe Biden’s son, served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil and gas company, while his father was vice-president, as well as then-President Barack Obama’s point man on Ukraine.
“Then they sent U.S. Vice President Mike Pence essentially to further pressure Zelensky on the same subject,” Parnas added. “Unsatisfied with the results, Trump then reneged on a promise to send Pence to Zelensky’s inauguration – which would have signaled significant U.S. recognition of his government."
Instead of Pence, the Trump administration sent “woefully unprepared” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who, according to Parnas, needed instructions from Giuliani on what to say.
“Then, Devin Nunes – chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – sent his staffer, retired General Derek Harvey, to interview pro-Russian Ukrainian prosecutors to find anti-Biden information. After I blew the whistle on him, Nunes claimed to have never met me. He would have gotten away with it, too, but Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff produced phone and text records that proved extensive communication between Nunes and me. Republican Ron Johnson then took information from Andriy Derkach and Andriy Telizhenko – both of whom were sanctioned by the U.S. government as Russian agents – about the Bidens and spread it through Congress as if it were reliable.”
In October 2022 Derkach, who had left Ukraine and is still at large, was arrested in absentia for treason.
“Finally, Victoria Toensing and her husband, Joe diGenova, worked closely with Trump ally John Solomon to have Fox News personality [Sean] Hannity spread negative disinformation about the Bidens and Ukraine to an immense audience.”
Also, Parnas stressed, it was Giuliani who provided the arm-twisting on then-Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine.
“Lutsenko wanted to meet [then-U.S. Attorney General] Bill Barr to discuss Ukrainian corruption and money flowing to the U.S., and Rudy wanted to charge him $200,000,” Parnas said. “Lutsenko was always pissed that he had to pay to meet Barr. Later, the pressure by Giuliani was so strong to start an investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden that Lutsenko couldn’t handle it.”
According Parnas, Zelensky’s predecessor was also pressured by Trump: “Petro Poroshenko had an offer of support from Trump on the condition that he would speak out against U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch [whom Trump eventually fired], on Hannity’s show. He refused it simply because he didn’t expect Trump to live up to his end of the bargain.”
“Trump lap dogs” against aid to Ukraine
Since his arrest, Parnas has had months in confinement to reflect on the war in Ukraine and contemplate the current political landscape in the U.S. He was asked about his thoughts on the new push by junior Republican U.S. Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, among others, to draw down U.S. military aid for Ukraine. As unlikely as it may sound, could it simply be an economic consideration on their part?
“This has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with revenge by a group of Trump lap dogs,” Parnas said. “You have to understand that the people in the group you’re talking about – Gaetz, Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Greene – really haven’t traveled outside of the U.S., and certainly not to Ukraine. They simply don’t comprehend the magnitude and severity of the situation. So, their motivation is isolationist, inward-looking and, ultimately, self-serving. They are trying to score political points with their constituents by promoting the reduction, or even termination, of aid as simple fiscal responsibility. They market it as taking care of our own people first. And, of course, all of them are Trump ideologues and they will do anything not just to please him, but to bring him back to power. And we all know which side Trump is on.”
There will always be some question as to what Ukraine strategy Russian President Vladimir Putin might have followed had Trump been re-elected in 2020 (the central aim, of course, of the Parnas team’s mission in 2018), but for Parnas today, in retrospect, there is little doubt.
“I sincerely believe that if Trump had been elected to a second term, the U.S. would not have sent military or other crucial aid to Ukraine,” he said, adding that it would have been especially problematic at the beginning of the war, which was so crucial for the protection of the country and its people.
“Instead of facilitating a unified response by NATO, [Trump] would have sown dissent among its members and taken the U.S. farther away from the alliance, weakening it to near irrelevance,” Parnas said. “Both of those factors would have helped Russia achieve its goals in Ukraine very quickly. And many more people would have died.”
Lev Parnas, who with his business partner Igor Fruman have become entangled in US President Donald Trump's impeachment with their work regarding Ukraine, walks outside during the impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill January 29, 2020, in Washington, DC. Lev Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman are key players in US President Donald Trump's alleged campaign to pressure the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a potential election opponent for the president.Brendan Smialowski / AFP
Again, in a contrite, quiet voice from his home in Florida, Parnas pleaded his case on what he can do now, and is doing, for Ukraine, all mea culpas aside:
“I have to take a moment to commend President Zelensky,” he said. “Despite his lack of political experience, he has managed to stare down two tyrants. First, he withstood Trump’s pressure to slander the Bidens, knowing full well that Joe Biden would almost certainly be Trump’s opponent in the 2020 presidential election. And, of course, he stood up to Vladimir Putin. You have to remember that most of the world advised him to leave the country for his own safety, but he stayed and remained strong while directing the Ukrainian war effort against a furious Russian invasion.”
Parnas says that since the first day of the invasion he has been working very closely with people in Ukraine to get humanitarian aid to those in need. “Fortunately, my cousin Oleksandr “Alex” Bolbirer, who in Ukraine with his wife and daughter, has been working with Michael Capponi’s Global Empowerment Mission to help deliver that aid to the people of Ukraine, particularly those in the hardest hit regions and those still being attacked by the Russians. In fact, I have been working to put together a group in the U.S., Western Europe and Ukraine to start rebuilding homes, schools and governmental buildings now, when they are critically needed by families and children, instead of waiting until after the war.”
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Knowing what we know, including this interview with Mr. Parnas - one thing has become very clear. Outwardly Ukrainians may say they do not favor either political party in America - that it is up to Americans who they vote for. In reality, that is a luxury Ukrainians cannot afford to have. Come November 6th, 2024 - the whole of Ukraine will either have a wild party or will become a nationwide funeral, depending on which party wins the American presidential election.
Kyiv Post, why do you give a convicted felon the time of day at the top of your fantastic news webpage?
President-elect Trump is in exile due to massive voter ballot fraud. Our Military Industrial Complex as well as other Deep State enemies of America wanted President-elect Trump out.
President-elect Trump would have furnished The Ukraine with all the necessary armaments to deter Putrid from invading The Ukraine in the first place.
And President-elect Trump would have publicly warned Putrid to not step any further into The Ukraine with the forces he was mobilizing to the border.
Joe BRIBEn said and did nothing save the worthless economic sanctions. Why? Because Joe BRIBEn is in the pockets and wallets of the Military Industrial Complex. Joe BRIBEn refuses to give The Ukraine the necessary weapons to force Russia into a full and complete unconditional surrender. Why? Because ending this war will end our Military Industrial Complex's profits.
And why is an investigation to learn the truth so bad? When the truth comes out, this article will be forgotten.
I don’t believe him. He strikes one as a shady character
This guy is a fkin liar.
@Atilla, Big time liar.
@Atilla, Nope. Cope.
this is a opinion without regard to the main focus - Joe Biden's corrupted son being investigated and at the time VP Biden was threatening to withhold any aid to Ukraine if Ukraine did not fire the UA Prosecutor - that is all recorded on a media tape.
The invasion of Ukraine was not going to happen under Trump anyway. Biden is the wrong president at the wrong time. putin smelt a weak Biden, thus took the chance of invading UA. putin obviously over played his hand and the EU, NATO were the first pushed back. USA has full and the biggest support for Ukraine - under Biden - it's little, too late. Winning this war is about leadership - the end game would have been set months ago. Incremental trade sanctions and meager arms supply only prolonged the war. Nobody wants to see this war last another 20 years like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc. The EU, NATO and USA combined has leadership and capabilities to defeat ruzzia months ago - setting this end has NO LEADERSHIP at this time and have caused opportunity costs - more destruction and Ukrainians being murdered by ruzzia.
Basically Trump and Biden did the same thing. Pressure Ukraine to get some benefit for themselves.
Your guess about no war if Trump was in office is just that, a guess. That being said, it's obvious that Putin has been planning this invasion for a very long time. Nobody believed it would happen, including myself, and that's why support was tepid from EVERYONE. Also, nobody expected Ukraine to do so well at stopping the invasion, including myself, which is why support was tepid at the beginning of the war.
All I know is that EVERYONE needs to speed up support for Ukraine much faster, from all countries.
Your opinion seems to come from a partisan place, and frankly doesn't do anyone any good at this point, at least not in Ukraine, and just sounds like sour grapes(to me).