A former associate claims Rudy Giuliani had him deliver a demand that Ukrainian officials investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden or face repercussions from President Trump, according to a report Sunday.
The allegations by Lev Parnas — who plans to share them with with investigators working to impeach Trump — have been strenuously denied by both everyone else at the meeting in Kiev and by Giuliani, the New York Times said.
During the meeting, Parnas warned that American aid to Ukraine would be frozen and that Vice President Mike Pence would boycott the incoming president’s inauguration if officials didn’t announce an investigation of Biden and his son, Hunter, Parnas’ lawyer told the Times.
Parnas believed Giuliani was acting on orders from Trump when the president’s personal lawyer told him to communicate the alleged ultimatum to Serhiy Shefir, a confidant of then-incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, lawyer Joseph Bondy said.
The meeting between Parnas, pal Igor Fruman — with whom he was busted last month on federal campaign-finance charges — and Shefir took place at an outdoor cafe shortly in the days leading to Zelensky’s May 20 swearing-in, a source familiar with the events told the Times.
The men sipped coffee and spoke in Russian, the source said.
Both Parnas and Fruman have been subpoenaed to testify before the impeachment inquiry, and Bondy told the Times that Parnas would comply as fully as he can without incriminating himself.
Trump froze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in June, ahead of the July 25 phone call with Zelensky that’s at the heart of the Democratic impeachment inquiry, before lifting the hold in September.
Pence didn’t attend Zelensky’s inauguration and his office told the Times that it had told Ukrainian officials on May 13 that he wouldn’t be there.
If true, Parnas’ account would make the meeting with Shefir the earliest alleged link between the aid money and an investigation of the Bidens, which Trump has steadfastly denied, and would also directly implicate Giuliani, who is reportedly under investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors for his work in Ukraine.
Giuliani told the Times that he “never authorized such a conversation” by Parnas, adding: “Categorically, I did not tell him to say that.”
Fruman lawyer John Dowd said his client and Parnas had merely sought a meeting with Zelensky, telling the Times, “There was no mention of any terms, military aid or whatever they are talking about – it’s false.”
Shefir also gave the Times a statement in which he acknowledged the meeting but said the subject of military aid never came up.
“We did not treat Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman as official representatives, and therefore we did not consider that they could speak on behalf of the U.S. government,” Shefir added.
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