A lawyer representing an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani told the New York Times on Sunday that his client warned Ukrainian officials that the Trump administration would freeze military aid to Ukraine unless Kiev announced an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
According to the Times, Lev Parnas told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze military aid.
“The claim by Mr. Parnas, who is preparing to share his account with impeachment investigators, challenges the narrative of events from Mr. Trump and Ukrainian officials that is at the core of the congressional inquiry. It also directly links Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to threats of repercussions made to the Ukrainians, something he has strenuously denied,” reports The New York Times.
Parnas’s claim comes despite the president and other top administration officials insisting that military aid to Ukraine was never held up on the condition of Ukraine’s government opening an investigation into Biden, a top contender for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination.
Giuliani denied Parnas’s claim that he had delivered the warning at his direction.
“Categorically, I did not tell him to say that,” Giuliani said.
The Times notes that the dispute between Parnas and Giuliani “represents the clearest indication yet that Mr. Parnas, who was indicted along with Mr. Fruman last month on campaign finance charges, has turned on Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani.”
The Times adds:
Mr. Parnas’s account of the meeting, if corroborated, would reveal the earliest known instance of American aid being tied to demands for Ukraine to take actions that could benefit Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. It would also represent a more extensive threat — to pull Mr. Pence from the inaugural delegation — than was previously known.