Lev Parnas’s Comments To New York Times Conflict With CNN Report About ‘Secret Mission’ For Trump

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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  • Lev Parnas’s comments to The New York Times on Wednesday appear to conflict with what CNN reported about the Soviet-born businessman back in November. 
  • Parnas told the Times that he did not speak directly with President Donald Trump about his Ukraine-related efforts. Instead, Parnas worked closely with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
  • CNN reported on Nov. 16 that associates of Parnas’s said that he claimed that he spoke privately with Trump in late-2018 about Ukraine, and that the president tasked him with a “secret mission.”

Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman linked to Rudy Giuliani, told The New York Times on Wednesday that he did not speak directly with President Donald Trump about his Ukraine-related efforts, a claim that appears to conflict with a CNN report published in November.

The Times reported that “Mr. 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.”

Those remarks appear inconsistent with what CNN reported on Nov. 16, 2019.

According to the network, Parnas told associates after a White House Hanukkah party in 2018 that Trump personally sent him on a “James Bond mission” related to Ukraine. (RELATED: Lev Parnas Is Willing To Cooperate With Prosecutors, His Lawyer Says)

Parnas said that he and another associate, Igor Fruman, had a private meeting with Trump and Giuliani on the sidelines of the event.

The CNN story reads:

Eventually, according to what Parnas told his confidants, the topic turned to Ukraine that night. According to those two confidants, Parnas said that ‘the big guy,’ as he sometimes referred to the President in conversation, talked about tasking him and Fruman with what Parnas described as ‘a secret mission’ to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Parnas spoke to The Times and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday, his first public remarks since he was indicted on Oct. 10 on campaign finance charges.

Parnas said in his interview with Maddow that Trump “knew exactly what was going on” with regards to his work with Giuliani, but he notably did not tell the MSNBC host that he spoke directly with the president about his efforts.

Instead, he said that he was certain Trump knew of his work because he was with Giuliani when the pair would speak by phone.

Parnas has provided the House Intelligence Committee with text messages and other documents that reveal details of his work with Giuliani to remove Marie Yovanovitch as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Parnas also worked with the Trump lawyer to collect and disseminate information related to Hunter Biden’s links to Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company.

Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph Bondy, did not confirm the specifics of CNN’s report, but told the outlet that, “Mr. Parnas at all times believed that he was acting only on behalf of the President, as directed by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and never on behalf of any Ukrainian officials.”

Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Fruman, who was indicted alongside Parnas, declined an on the record comment when contacted by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Several allegations attributed to Parnas have been disputed, including one bombshell claim also reported by CNN.

Rep. Devin Nunes sued CNN on Dec. 3 over an article written by the same reporter who published the Nov. 16 story.

Vicky Ward, the journalist, reported on Nov. 23 that Bondy said that Parnas was willing to testify that Nunes met in Vienna in 2018 with Viktor Shokin, a former Ukrainian prosecutor who claimed that he was fired in 2016 at the direction of Joe Biden.

“Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December,” Bondy told CNN.

Nunes vehemently denied visiting Vienna or ever meeting Shokin, and called Parnas a “fraudster and a huckster.”

A source close to Shokin has also denied that the Ukrainian met with Nunes. The Republican did acknowledge on Wednesday that he has spoken by phone with Parnas.

CNN did not respond to a request for comment.

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