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Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult'

During the second part of his interview with MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowOcasio-Cortez eyeing T over 10 years for infrastructure Tucker Carlson: Matt Gaetz sexual allegation interview 'one of weirdest' he's done MSNBC changes branding of live breaking news coverage to 'MSNBC Reports' MORE, Lev Parnas — a known associate of President TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGreitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP Gaetz hires legal counsel amid DOJ probe Georgia lieutenant governor: Giuliani election claims helped lead to new voting law 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 BarrGarland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Dominion: Ex-Michigan state senator 'sowing discord in our democracy' with election fraud claims 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 BoltonHillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions Russia blocks key Biden Cabinet officials from entering in retaliation for sanctions The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause 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.