Political News

Giuliani claims ex-associate Lev Parnas has 'been caught in so many lies'

Posted January 23, 2020 9:34 a.m. EST

— Rudy Giuliani said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday that his former associate Lev Parnas, who has become a key figure in the Ukraine scandal, is "caught in so many lies," and he denied allegations that he had spoken about Ukraine with Attorney General William Barr.

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer spoke with CNN outside his Upper East Side apartment during a brief break from recording his new podcast, which he said will launch Friday.

In a wide-ranging interview, Giuliani discussed his reaction to recent allegations by Parnas, who has been indicted on campaign finance charges, and to the Senate impeachment trial, where Giuliani is a central focus of Democrats' case that Trump was running a shadow influence campaign.

"Well, I'm not going to say as much about Lev Parnas because the thing is under investigation, except to say that he's been caught in so many lies so far. That he's really an unreliable source," Giuliani said. Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman, helped arrange meetings for Giuliani in Ukraine and acted as a translator.

Giuliani's comments follow the release of documents from Parnas by the House Intelligence Committee, and a series of media interviews where Parnas aired potentially damaging details about his work in Ukraine, which he claims had the blessing of both Trump and Giuliani.

Parnas and his attorney Joseph A. Bondy have been making a public case against the pair in recent weeks, saying there was a coordinated effort by them to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into the energy company Burisma and the Bidens.

CNN has reached out to Bondy for comment on Giuliani's comments.

When asked specifically about Parnas' claim that it was all a coordinated effort to reelect Trump, Giuliani deflected, citing the ongoing investigation and saying he felt sorry for Parnas.

"I'm just going to comment generally on Lev, for two reasons," said Giuliani. "One, it is under investigation and number two, I don't even know if I should say this, but I feel sorry for him. I have affection for him and his family. I feel what he's doing is terribly wrong."

He compared Parnas' media appearances to Michael Cohen, the President's former attorney.

"Maybe he's getting really bad legal advice. The same thing Michael Cohen did. Michael Cohen talked himself into three years of prison by telling 10 lies. He's up to about four now. And when you have a witness like that, you don't try out to be a government witness on television," Giuliani told CNN.

When reminded about his own frequent appearances on television, he replied that it was different because he is a "public person."

Giuliani also emphasized that he had never spoken with Barr, rebutting claims by Parnas that Giuliani spoke with Barr about opening an investigation into Burisma.

"I also have to make it clear that what he said about Attorney General Barr is outrageous," said Giuliani. "He has no knowledge that I ever spoke to Attorney General Barr, because I never did. I have faithfully maintained a barrier there. I know Barr. I consider him a friend. I congratulated him on his appointment. I've talked to him about other things. Never talked to him about this case. Not a word."

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he didn't know Parnas, with whom he's posed in photos, "other than -- he's sort of a groupie," adding that "he shows up at fundraisers." Trump went on to say that Parnas is one in "tens of thousands" who contribute to his campaign and that he poses for pictures with lots of people.

When asked if he is watching the Senate trial, Giuliani said he's been watching it on and off.

"I think it's a tremendous waste of the taxpayers' money because we are trying two offenses that are not impeachable offenses."

He reiterated a popular talking point by White House counsel and congressional Republicans that the impeachment is illegitimate because none of the articles of impeachment constitute a crime, and that Democrats have not worked within the framework of the Constitution.

"Abuse of power is not a crime," Giuliani said. "Nowhere, in any statute book, is it a crime. Obstruction of Congress is a joke. I mean it's not a crime at all. So they have not charged a high crime and misdemeanor, which means they have assumed constitutional power over their own completely illicit proceeding. And we should sue them for the cost of it. Because this is a Democratic, totally partisan political endeavor."

Some of the materials from Parnas are already making their way into the trial. Rep. Val Demings of Florida, one of the Democratic House managers, argued Tuesday at the trial that the State Department should be subpoenaed regarding conversations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have had with Giuliani. Demings referenced a February 2018 text message between Giuliani and Republican lawyer Victoria Toensing that he was planning to speak with Pompeo about removing the then-US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

House investigators only got those text messages last week, after Parnas complied with a months-old subpoena.

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