Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult'

During the second part of his interview with MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowTlaib says she held Omar's hand during 'triggering' moments at Trump's State of the Union speech Schiff: Bolton 'refused' to submit affidavit on Trump's involvement in Ukraine controversy Tlaib says mention of Kavanaugh was 'trigger' to walk out of Trump speech MORE, Lev Parnas — a known associate of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani: Bloomberg 'jeopardized' stop and frisk by 'overusing it' Giuliani asked for post-9/11 mayoral election to be canceled so he could stay in office: book House panel says key witness isn't cooperating in probe into Yovanovitch surveillance MORE — likened the president to a cult leader.

"I don't think Trump is like organized crime, I think he's like a cult leader," Parnas told Maddow in the taped interview.

Parnas added: "There are a lot of Republicans that would go against him. ... He wasn't as powerful in '16 and '17, he became that powerful when he got [Attorney General] William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrStone judge under pressure over calls for new trial The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Congress eyes killing controversial surveillance program MORE."

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He also admitted that both he and his family were scared of the U.S.'s justice system.

The Ukrainian American played a central role in Giuliani's "shadow diplomacy" in Ukraine in 2019 and was part of the former New York mayor's efforts to have Trump recall then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

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Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were arrested late last year on alleged campaign finance violations.

In the first part of his interview with Maddow, which aired Wednesday night, Parnas said Trump "knew exactly what was going on," and that former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Bolton's lost leverage Azar downplays chance Trump will appoint coronavirus czar MORE was aware of what was happening in Ukraine.

In response to Parnas saying that Vice President Pence was in the know, the vice president's chief of staff Marc Short said in a statement Wednesday: "This is very simple: Lev Parnas is under a multi-count indictment and will say anything to anybody who will listen in hopes of staying out of prison."

"It’s no surprise that only the liberal media is listening to him," he added.