Ukraine Foreign Minister: ‘I Don’t Trust’ Lev Parnas

January 16, 2020 Updated: January 16, 2020
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Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said that he’s never spoken with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, who has made a series of allegations against President Donald Trump this week and submitted evidence to House Democrats they say bolsters the case to remove Trump from office.

Prystaiko also said he doesn’t trust Parnas.

“Frankly, I have not spoken with this individual, and again, frankly, I don’t trust any word he is now saying,” Prystaiko told CNN.

Parnas has said Trump was aware of an alleged scheme by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for Trump releasing security assistance to Ukraine. Parnas claimed in TV appearances this week that Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, and former national security adviser John Bolton were aware of what was happening, a claim vociferously denied by Pence‘s spokesman and the Department of Justice.

Giuliani, a known associate of Parnas, has said he was not aware of any wrongdoing.

Parnas submitted a raft of documents to the House of Representatives and House Democrats released some of the information this week, including handwritten notes and texts. “All of this new evidence confirms what we already know: the President and his associates pressured Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit the President politically,” four House chairs said in a joint statement.

Epoch Times Photo
In this Dec. 2, 2019, file photo, Lev Parnas arrives at court in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)

Prystaiko cautioned against trusting Parnas, saying the security assistance from the United States to Ukraine is reviewed annually and can be cut sometimes, depending on the political winds. He appeared to say that Ukraine received more than they thought they would get last year when Trump eventually released congressionally approved funds.

“I understand that this individual, which I don’t know personally, is trying to save his own case, and I, again, I don’t trust what he is saying,” Prystaiko said, referring to Parnas being indicted for making illegal campaign contributions.

Prystaiko said he’s tired of questions about Ukraine’s role in the events surrounding Trump’s impeachment, saying the country enjoys bipartisan support and wants to keep it that way. He also dismissed reports that Ukrainian officials were part of so-called backchannels opened by Giuliani to negotiate the alleged quid pro quo.

“I believe that people are now trying to raise their political importance,” he said. “Frankly, we don’t need these channels, our channels of communication with the Americans are well-established.”

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said Ukraine wasn’t aware of the hold on congressionally approved aid to Ukraine when Trump spoke to Zelensky in July. The aid was released on time, a senior administration official said, though the Government Accountability Office said on Thursday that series of holds placed on the aid by the Trump administration violated the law. Ukraine never announced a probe into the Bidens.

The White House also pushed back against allegations made by Parnas this week.

“These allegations are being made by a man who is currently out on bail for federal crimes and is desperate to reduce his exposure to prison,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “The facts haven’t changed—the president did nothing wrong and this impeachment, which was manufactured and carried out by the Democrats has been a sham from the start.

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