Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult'

During the second part of his interview with MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowTrump dings CNN, 'Morning Joe' ratings as Tucker Carlson sets record Susan Rice 'humbled and honored' by rumors Biden considering her for VP Trump touts ratings for rally, Fox News town hall: 'These are the real polls' MORE, Lev Parnas — a known associate of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down GOP lawmakers join social media app billed as alternative to Big Tech 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 BarrBill BarrBarr praises Seattle police chief as officers clear protest zone Judge strikes down Trump administration rule denying asylum to most migrants at southern border Supreme Court declines challenge to DOJ execution method 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 BoltonBolton says he would have personally briefed Trump on Russian bounties Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Mark Penn Judge temporarily blocks publication of Mary Trump book 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.