7 biggest names implicated in new allegations about Ukraine scandal

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Rudy Giuliani's indicted associate claims high-level officials all the way up to Donald Trump and Mike Pence were involved in the Ukraine scandal.

A close associate of Rudy Giuliani is speaking out about his role in the effort to force Ukraine to announce investigations into Donald Trump's political rivals, specifically former Vice President Joe Biden.

Lev Parnas, a top GOP donor who was indicted in an illegal campaign finance scheme last year, released a trove of text messages and documents to Congress this week implicating a number of high-level Trump administration officials in the scandal that eventually led to Trump's impeachment in December.

On Wednesday night, he sat down for an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and implicated numerous top officials in the scheme.

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"Everybody was in the loop," Parnas said.

Parnas also spoke with the New York Times, directly tying Trump to the controversy.

Here are the seven biggest figures named by Parnas this week.

Donald Trump

Parnas told Maddow that the attempt to coerce Ukraine into investigating Biden by withholding military aid went all the way to the top.

"President Trump knew exactly what was going on," Parnas told Maddow. "He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President."

In his interview with the Times, Parnas said that "although he did not speak with Mr. Trump directly about the efforts, he met with the president on several occasions and was told by Mr. Giuliani that Mr. Trump was kept in the loop."

"I am betting my whole life that Trump knew exactly everything that was going on that Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine," he said.

Vice President Mike Pence

Pence and his allies have tried to distance Pence from the Ukrainian scandal.

However, Parnas told Maddow on Wednesday that Pence was also "in the loop" on the matter and canceled a scheduled appearance at Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy's inauguration as part of the pressure campaign to force the country to investigate Trump's rivals.

"It was already planned out, it was already discussed," Parnas said of Pence's scheduled visit to Ukraine. According to Parnas, he spoke with one of Zelenskiy's senior aides about the matter and delivered a "very harsh message" about the need to announce the investigations, saying all aid would be withheld otherwise.

"The announcement was the key at that time because of the inauguration and I told him Pence would not show up, nobody would show up to his inauguration. It was particularly Vice President Mike Pence," he added.

One day later, Pence canceled his scheduled trip to Ukraine.

Parnas said Zelenskiy's aide had blocked him on the messaging platform WhatsApp. "I remember Rudy going, 'Okay. They'll see.' To my awareness, Trump called to say 'Make sure Pence doesn't go [to the inauguration]."

Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short has since tried to discredit Parnas in order to avoid his boss being drawn into the scandal.

"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," Short told the Times. "It’s no surprise that only the liberal media is listening to him."

Attorney General William Barr

Barr previously denied any role in the effort to force Ukraine to investigate Biden — despite the fact that Trump himself implicated Barr in the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president that's now at the center of the impeachment proceedings.

In the July 25 call, Trump told the Ukrainian president that he was going to have Barr give him a call to discuss the Biden investigation he wanted.

And on Wednesday, Parnas further implicated the attorney general, saying he was in on the efforts to pressure Ukraine.

"Barr had to have known everything," Parnas told Maddow, saying that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in contact with Barr about the effort. "Attorney General Barr was basically on the team."

Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani's role in the Ukrainian scandal has been known since the early days of the impeachment inquiry.

Former national security aide Fiona Hill testified about how now-former national security adviser John Bolton thought Giuliani was a "hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up."

However, Parnas also said this week that Giuliani was the ringleader of the operation and acting directly at Trump's behest.

He released a letter Giuliani sent to the Ukrainian president to try and get him to sit down and talk about the Biden investigation.

As previously noted, he also told Maddow that Giuliani instructed him to tell the senior Zelenskiy aide "in a harsh way" that if the Ukrainians did not announce the Biden investigation, they wouldn't get the military aid or Pence's attendance at the inauguration.

Former national security adviser John Bolton

Parnas did not say that Bolton did anything wrong in the Ukrainian scandal.

However, he did say that Bolton knew the intimate details of the plot, and that he would be a "key witness" if called to testify in the impeachment trial that's about to begin in the Senate.

“One hundred percent, he knows what happened,” Parnas told Maddow.

Democrats want Bolton to testify, and Bolton has said he would testify if called. However, Republicans want to block testimony, possibly to avoid helping Democrats' case.

Trump donor and GOP House candidate Robert F. Hyde

Ukraine has now launched its own investigation into whether former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was being inappropriately surveilled during her tenure in the country.

The investigation stems from text messages between Parnas and Robert F. Hyde, a top Trump donor and Republican House candidate in Connecticut.

Hyde texted Parnas about how he was tracking Yovanovitch's movements, and disparaged her as a "bitch."

However, Parnas doubted that Hyde actually was surveilling Yovanovitch, telling Maddow that Hyde is a "weird character" and a "weird individual" who he claimed "was either drunk or was trying to make himself bigger than he was ... I didn't take it seriously."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo has come under scrutiny for his role in the abrupt recall of Yovanovitch from her role as ambassador in May 2019.

According to documents made available by Parnas this week and released by House investigators, Giuliani informed Pompeo about the effort to oust Yovanovitch as far back as February 2019. According to a series of text messages, the two had a meeting that month to discuss the ambassador, who Giuliani and Trump believed was standing in the way of any investigations into Biden.

Call logs also show the two men communicated several times before Yovanovitch was eventually pulled from her post.

Parnas reiterated to Maddow on Wednesday that the reason for her dismissal was the desire for a Biden investigation. "That was the only motivation. There was no other motivation [to recall Yovanovitch]," he said.

Pompeo previously claimed in November that Yovanovitch was ousted to make room for now-former ambassador Bill Taylor, who later testified in the House impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.