Conway Reacts to Allegations From Lev Parnas: ‘He’s Desperate’

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
January 16, 2020 Updated: January 16, 2020

Lev Parnas has suspect motivations, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said in reaction to allegations made from the associate of President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

“He’s desperate. He’s been indicted. He had to post bail. I guess he lied to them, too, about his wealth, apparently,” Conway told reporters in Washington on Thursday, responding to a question about why Parnas is coming forward now.

“He’s desperate, and it looks like he’s facing some serious criminal charges.”

Conway referred to the Department of Justice challenging some claims by Parnas, calling them “100 percent false.”

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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington on Jan. 16, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Referencing media outlets promoting former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti as solid sources, Conway told reporters to resist pushing unverified claims.

“I would caution people, it’s always [that] if they’re against Donald Trump, they’re credible, they’re legitimate. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been indicted, if they’re about to be indicted, ‘We’ll put them on TV, we’ll quote them, we’ll give them accolades, attention,'” she said.

“I would just caution against that, because being against Donald Trump doesn’t mean you are honest or trustworthy.”

Conway said that the Trump administration is looking into past statements made by the media about Parnas.

“Think of what you’re doing, folks—honestly, you’re respectable people—think of what you’re doing,” she said. “Where it’s constantly, you’ve been berating and denigrating Rudy Giuliani for years now—that’s questionable itself. But now one of his associates, who I assume you would have had the same opinion about, and probably have expressed it—we’re researching that now, that should be delicious once completed—now, all of a sudden, he’s the second coming. So be a little careful.”

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President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on Sept. 20, 2019. (Aram Roston/File Photo/Reuters)

Parnas, 47, was charged last year with making illegal contributions to politicians and a political action committee. He pleaded not guilty in October 2019. Giuliani has distanced himself from Parnas and said he wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing.

Parnas submitted documents to the House of Representatives, which released some of them this week.

House Democrats said the documents are additional evidence “to be included as part of the official record that will be transmitted to the Senate along with the Articles of Impeachment.” The documents include phone records, texts, and flash drives.

Parnas appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Wednesday night, making a series of unsubstantiated claims. CNN is being sued over reporting a claim from Parnas and Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph Bondy, about Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Parnas is clearly “a fraudster and a hustle,” Nunes’s lawsuit stated.

House leaders also talked about Parnas in dueling press conferences Thursday morning. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said “This man lacks all credibility.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 16, 2020. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“This is the same pattern I’ve seen before with Cohen, with Avenatti,” McCarthy added. “The media tries to building something into it. Just to show that he went on and on and the nature of what he spoke, this is the same man that said Devin Nunes was in Vienna when he was not. So he doesn’t have any credibility.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), though, said that “under other circumstances, if somebody like Parnas came forward and there was evidence—there was reason to believe that some of that was factual—there would be a special prosecutor appointed.”

But Attorney General William Barr, Pelosi said, would not appoint a special prosecutor “because he’s implicated in all of this.”

Still, even Pelosi sounded a note of caution with regard to the veracity of the claims.

“There seems to be documentation that would validate what Parnas is saying,” she added, “but that all has to be subjected to scrutiny.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.