Trump again denies knowing Lev Parnas: ‘He’s a con man’
President Trump on Wednesday vehemently denounced Lev Parnas, the former associate of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, saying he didn’t know Parnas and that the businessman was “sort of like a groupie” who shows up at fundraisers.
Trump made the comments during a press conference from Davos, Switzerland, as he attended the annual World Economic Forum. Asked about allegations by Parnas that the president knew of all his and Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, Trump immediately shot back, calling Parnas a “con man.”
“I don’t know him, other than he’s sort of like a groupie,” Trump said of Parnas, who is facing a federal indictment for alleged campaign finance violations.
“He shows up at fundraisers. I don’t know anything about him,” Trump added.
Parnas and his associate, Igor Fruman, were arrested and indicted last October for allegedly funneling donations to U.S. political campaigns, including a group supporting Trump’s reelection bid. The two have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
“Parnas, I don’t know, other than he probably contributed to the campaign along with tens of thousands of other people,” Trump added. “This weekend I was taking pictures with hundreds of people. Every once in a while I’ll look at somebody and I’ll say, ‘Gee, I wonder when that picture is going to be in The New York Times, or The Washington Post or on Fox.’ ”
House investigators last week released a trove of records and text messages that Parnas turned over as part of their investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The documents offered additional details about Trump and Giuliani’s apparent efforts to pressure Ukraine into opening investigations into the president’s political rivals.
Parnas also spoke out about the dealings in highly talked about interviews with MSNBC and CNN that same week.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Parnas said that he had considered the president to be a friend, noting that he had gone from being a donor to a close friend of Giuliani to “eventually becoming his asset and his ally on the ground in Ukraine.”
He threatened to release a photo of the two every time Trump denied knowing him. An attorney representing Parnas has posted photos of the Soviet-born businessman and Trump on social media.
Trump also denied knowing Parnas during a press conference last week.
“I don’t know him at all,” Trump said Thursday. “Don’t know what he’s about. Don’t know where he comes from. Know nothing about him. I can only tell you this thing is a big hoax.”
Giuliani told Fox News earlier this week that Parnas had made many “misrepresentations” surrounding the facts of the effort to push Ukraine to announce investigations.
“I’m not going to respond to him for each and every one of the misrepresentations he’s made, because there are so many,” Giuliani said, adding that he’d be prepared to testify as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial.
The House impeached Trump following an inquiry into allegations that he pressured Ukraine to announce beneficial investigations and that he used millions in military aid as a source of leverage.
The Senate impeachment trial began on Tuesday and is slated for a long day two on Wednesday.
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