Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult'

During the second part of his interview with MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Biden's safe-space CNN town hall attracts small audience, as poll numbers plummet Rachel Maddow reveals she underwent surgery for skin cancer MORE, Lev Parnas — a known associate of President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiFormer NYC police commissioner to testify before Jan. 6 committee, demands apology Midterms are coming: Will we get answers on Jan. 6 before it's too late? Subpoenas show Jan. 6 panel's focus on Trump's plans 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 BarrMichael Cohen officially released from prison sentence Incoming NAACP Legal Defense Fund president sees progress against 'revitalized mission to advance white supremacy' Fox's Bartiromo called Bill Barr 'screaming' about election fraud: book 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 BoltonWhen will Biden declare America's 'One China, One Taiwan' policy? India's S-400 missile system problem Overnight Defense & National Security — GOP unhappy with Afghan vetting 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.