Lev Parnas, whom Democrats now cite as a potential witness in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, actually undermined their case against the president in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that aired Thursday morning.
President Trump is accused of having withheld U.S. aid to pressure Ukraine to conduct an investigation into past election interference; and into allegations of wrongdoing by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who was paid a fortune to sit on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian fossil fuel company widely viewed as being corrupt.
For months, Democrats have claimed that President Trump was not interested in an actual investigation, but in having the president of Ukraine announce an investigation, to cause the maximum political damage to Biden, a potential 2020 rival.
Parnas likewise told Anderson Cooper that the whole effort had been aimed at securing the president’s re-election in 2020.
But Parnas also suggested that the reason for an announcement by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was that no one “trusted” Ukraine to conduct an investigation. The implication is that the administration did not trust Ukraine, a notoriously corrupt country, to investigate specific cases of corruption without making a public commitment to do so first.
He doubted, but did not know, if Trump cared about corruption — though a witness in the impeachment inquiry, whom Democrats chose not to call publicly, testified behind closed doors that Trump did — but said his team’s mission had been to secure an announcement.
From the transcript:
COOPER: Did the president care about corruption in Ukraine?
PARNAS: You’d have to ask him. But as far as I knew, the only thing we cared about, and were the team was to get Zelensky or Poroshenko or somebody to make a press release, an announcement into the Biden investigation.
COOPER: What’s so fascinating about what you just said is that it’s not to launch an investigation and to investigate even the Bidens and Burisma. It’s to make an announcement of an investigation. That’s what mattered.
PARNAS: Right, because nobody trusted them to do an investigation.
Parnas, a former Rudy Giuliani associate now under federal indictment for campaign finance violations, handed documents and text messages to House impeachment investigators after a federal judge allowed him to do so last week. Democrats want to add Parnas to the list of witnesses they have been pressing the Senate to call when it holds its trial next week.
Democrats did not want to wait for Parnas or his evidence to be available before impeaching the president last month.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.