Vice President Pence on Thursday denied knowing Lev Parnas, telling reporters that the Rudy Giuliani associate’s allegations that he was aware of efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter are “completely false.”
“I don’t know the guy,” Pence told reporters in Tampa, Fla., when asked about Parnas.
Parnas, who was indicted on campaign finance charges last year, recently turned over a trove of documents to House investigators that shed new light on an effort by Giuliani and others to oust former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Parnas sat for an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that aired Wednesday evening, claiming that Pence’s trip to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration in May was canceled because Ukraine hadn’t announced an investigation into the Bidens.
He also suggested that Pence was “in the loop” on the push for the investigation, adding, “He couldn’t have not known.”
Parnas also claimed that Pence was tasked to go Poland to meet with Zelensky in early September to press Kyiv to investigate the Bidens.
There are at least two pictures of Pence and Parnas together at campaign events.
President Trump on Thursday also denied knowing Parnas, telling reporters during an event about safeguarding the constitutional right of prayer in public schools: “I don’t even know who this man is, other than I guess he attended fundraisers so I take a picture with him.”
“I take thousands and thousands of pictures with people all the time. Thousands during the course of a year,” Trump continued. “I don’t know him at all. 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.”
“I don’t know him. Perhaps he’s a fine man, perhaps he’s not,” Trump said, later adding, “I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to him.”
An attorney representing Parnas responded to Trump’s remarks less than an hour later released a video showing the Trump and Parnas talking.
Bondy tweeted: “Here’s the ‘I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about, don’t know where he comes from, know nothing about him’ guy, w Lev Parnas & Roman Nasirov, former head of Ukrainian Fiscal Service, at Mar-a-Lago 12/16.”
Here’s the “I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about, don’t know where he comes from, know nothing about him” guy, w Lev Parnas & Roman Nasirov, former head of Ukrainian Fiscal Service, at Mar-a-Lago 12/16. @POTUS .@realDonaldTrump @Acosta #LevRemembers #LetLevSpeak pic.twitter.com/5B5QY2DJEg
— Joseph A. Bondy (@josephabondy) January 16, 2020