The Justice Department on Thursday denied Lev Parnas’ claims that Attorney General William P. Barr knew about President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son, Hunter.
“100 percent false,” Justice Department Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
In a bombshell interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday night, Mr. Parnas said the attorney general “absolutely” was in contact with Mr. Trump’s personal attorney and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani about his efforts in Ukraine.
“Mr. Barr had to have known everything,” Mr. Parnas said in the interview.
When asked if Mr. Giuliani told him he had spoken to Mr. Barr about Ukraine, Mr. Parnas replied, “Not only Rudy Giuliani. … Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.”
“Attorney General Barr wanted to get to the bottom of the Biden stuff and everything like that. I think that he might have gotten upset that the president ousted him, maybe. He didn’t want it in the public eye that he was doing it. But it was known internally that he was investigating the investigators.”
In a July 25 phone call now at the center of the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Trump suggested his Ukrainian counterpart investigate the Bidens and the 2016 U.S. election. He also suggested the Ukraine president contact Mr. Barr about the potential probe.
The Justice Department Thursday referred back to a September statement in which Mr. Barr said he was unaware of Mr. Trump’s talk with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky until several weeks later.
“The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son,” the statement said. “The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine – on this or any other matter.”
“The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine – on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani,” the statement continued.
Mr. Parnas, an associate of Mr. Giuliani, was indicted in October for allegedly illegally transferring foreign funds to American politicians.
House Democrats Tuesday night released a trove of new evidence obtained by Mr. Parnas including voicemails, text messages and photos related to the surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch by Giuliani associates.