Lev Parnas, the indicted sidekick of Rudy Giuliani, arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday for Donald Trump‘s impeachment trial but will watch the proceedings from a ‘safe’ location instead of the Senate visitors gallery.
Parnas can’t enter the Senate chamber because of a GPS tracking device attached to his leg. No electronics are allowed during the trial.
After he and his attorney Joseph Bondy picked up tickets from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s office, Bondy said his client would be watching from a ‘safe’ place while he watched from the Senate chamber.
Lev Parnas and his attorney Joseph Bondy arrive on Capitol Hill
Lev Parnas goes through a security check point at the Dirksen Senate Office Building
Lev Parnas looks at his phone as he waits in Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office
The two also told reporters on Capitol Hill that Parnas has additional recordings of the president, including some from Mar-a-Lago, with some being short videos and the other about 38 minutes long.
Bondy said some of them may be released.
Schumer said his office gave Parnas viewing tickets like they would do for any constituent from New York.
‘His lawyer called us up and asked for tickets like many New York constituents. And we said you can get tickets. We give them out to the many New Yorkers who have asked. I’m not sure Parnas would be allowed in because of the electronics around his ankle,’ he said during his press conference on Wednesday.
Parnas said he was willing to testify, adding that he would be a good addition to former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
‘My goal is hopefully to look at the senators and have them look at me and see that we need to call witnesses. The truth needs to come out. I’m here. I’m one of the most important witnesses. Me and John Bolton. The two of us put all the dots together,’ he said.
But Schumer said senators didn’t need to hear from Parnas, who is facing federal charges of illegal campaign contributions.
‘Lev Parnas wasn’t in the room where it happens,’ the senator said.
Parnas got permission from a New York judge for his bail conditions to be relaxed for him to come to Washington D.C. and attend the trial.
He and Bondy came down Wednesday morning via the train from New York and are expected to return later in the day.
Bondy wrote in a tweet: “Although we couldn’t arrange to have Lev Parnas watch the trial with us because his GPS ankle monitor is not allowed, Lev will join us in DC tomorrow to show support for a fair trial, with witnesses & evidence.”
Parnas and associate Igor Fruman had worked with Rudy Giuliani to try to convince Ukraine to announce an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.
The two men have both been indicted.
Members of the media surround Lev Parnas when he arrives on Capitol Hill
Lev Parnas and his attorney Joseph Bondy pose for a selfie in Schumer’s office
Lev Parnas with Rudy Giuliani in September 2019
Parnas said he wants to testify in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial
The video was made during a fundraiser dinner on April 30, 2018 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC and released on Saturday by an attorney for Parnas.
Parnas and Igor Fruman were present at the dinner, and Fruman made the video, an audio clip from which was previously released on Friday by ABC News.
Parnas found a copy of the full video that Fruman had sent to him, according to his attorney Joseph Bondy, who released the video and is lobbying for Parnas to be called to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial.
The 83-minute video begins with a roving view of the place-settings at a table set for roughly 14 people, as people mingle in the background. Place cards for ‘Mr. President’ and Donald Trump Jr are seen in the middle of one of the long sides.
Trump and his son Don Trump Jr are seen entering the room at the beginning of the dinner. The camera is then tipped to the ceiling and records audio of the rest of the dinner
Lev Parnas (left with his wife) and Igor Fruman (right) were at a fundraiser dinner on April 30, 2018 at the Trump International Hotel when they recorded Trump giving the order
Trump is heard on the tape saying of Yovanovitch (above) ‘Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.’
‘Some people may not want their picture taken, just be aware,’ a male voice is heard warning Fruman as he roams the room with his cell phone camera. Donald Trump is then seen entering to applause, and the phone is placed on the table filming the ceiling for the remainder of the dinner.
About 42 minutes into the video, Parnas appears to say, ‘The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start, is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration.’
Trump then appears to say, ‘Where? The ambassador to Ukraine?’
Parnas replies, ‘Yes. She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait’.’
A few seconds later, Trump appears to say, ‘Get rid of her! Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.’
After the partial audio clip of the dinner leaked on Friday, Trump defended himself, saying he had every right to fire Yovanovitch.
‘I am not a fan of that ambassador,’ Trump said in an interview with Fox News defending his actions on Friday. ‘She wouldn’t put my picture up, she was an Obama appointee I believe.’
‘I make no bones about it,’ he continued. ‘I have every right, I want ambassadors that are chosen by me. I have a right to hire and fire ambassadors.’
Yovanovitch’s attorneys have already denied that she did not put his picture up. Yovanovitch was a career diplomat who had been appointed an ambassador by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Asked if the order to fire Yovanovitch was directed at Parnas, a fixer who arranged interviews in Ukraine for Giuliani as he pursued his freelance investigation into alleged corruption, Trump demurred.
‘I would probably say it was Rudy there or somebody,’ Trump responded when asked whom the order was directed at. Giuliani has no position in the federal government and is Trump’s personal attorney. It was unknown until now that he was at the dinner.
Trump defended his order to fire then-Ambassador to the Ukraine MarieYovanovitch in an interview on Friday with Fox News’ Raymond Arroyo (right)
Trump has repeatedly claimed not to know Parnas, who has produced picture after picture of them together in multiple locations, including the White House, Mar-a-Lago and the Trump hotel D.C.
‘He’s somebody that I guess, based on pictures that I see, goes to fundraisers,’ Trump commented in the Friday interview, with Raymond Arroyo. The interview ran on Fox News, where Arroyo is a contributor, but he is also an anchor on the conservative Catholic EWTN channel, which was founded by TV nun Mother Angelica.
Last week Trump denied knowing Parnas 14 times in one White House question and answer session, then he denied it again on Wednesday, this time saying: ‘I don’t know him, other than he’s sort of like a groupie.’
Parnas’ attorney confirmed on Friday night that he had located the recording of the dinner and passed it to the House Intelligence Committee. The recording reported by ABC News suggests that Parnas and Fruman were very much in Trump’s inner circle.
Democrats seized on the recording as further evidence of Trump’s involvement.
‘If this is additional evidence of his involvement in that effort to smear her, it would certainly corroborate much of what we´ve heard, but I´m not in a position yet to analyze that, not having looked at it,’ said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., one of the House impeachment managers.
Parnas and Fruman are heard on the recording telling Trump that Yovanovitch is bad-mouthing him. Federal prosecutors have the recording and ABC News said it appeared to have been made by Fruman, and also featured a short video with Don Jr., the president’s oldest son in it.
On it, Parnas appears to say: ‘The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration.’
He also says: ‘She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait,’ he said.
That was when Trump said to get rid of her, the tape said.
Together again: Igor Fruman (second left) appears to have made the tape which ABC News says features Lev Parnas (center)
As the bombshell development reverberated - and Trump’s impeachment trial continued - Trump’s allies jumped to his defense.
The biggest problem there, I think where we need to start is we gotta get rid of the ambassador. She’s still left over from the Clinton administration She’s basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.’
What Lev told Trump (who denies knowing him
Republican Congressman Jim Jordan told reporters on Capitol Hill the president had the right to recall any ambassador he wished to.
And Vice President Mike Pence made the same argument, but dodged the issue of the tape itself.
‘I have not heard the tape and would not be prepared to comment on it,’ Pence told reporters traveling with him in Italy. ‘All of the ambassadors for the United States of America serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.’
Yovanovitch - who has served as ambassador to several countries and was first appointed to such a position by President George W. Bush - wasn’t recalled until a year later in April 2019.
She told lawmakers in her testimony during the impeachment inquiry that she was recalled based on ‘unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives’ that she was disloyal to and undermining the president.
She also said in her testimony she never told embassy staff to disregard orders from the administration because Trump was going to be impeached.
‘I did not and would not say such a thing,’ she said.
The identities of others on the recording are unclear, ABC News reports.
During an early portion of the recording where video is available, Donald Trump Jr. is seen posing for pictures with people.
The event at the president’s hotel that night was an event for The America First Action super PAC - a super PAC supporting Trump’s re-election campaign.
The president and Donald Trump Jr. have denied knowing Parnas, who has been making the media rounds as he seeks a deal with federal prosecutors, saying they only had photos taken with him at fundraisers.
President Trump has repeatedly denied knowing him and did so again last week during a school prayer event in the Oval Office.
‘I don’t know him,’ Trump said. ‘I don’t know Parnas other than I guess I had pictures taken, which I do with thousands of people.’
‘I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about. Don’t know where he comes from. Know nothing about him,’ he said. By one count he denied knowing Parnas 14 times.
Trump Jr. has made similar statements.
‘I met him at fundraiser events,’ Trump Jr. told Fox News earlier this month. ‘He was a donor at a super-PAC, shows up to some of these things like anything else. Honestly, I think it’s funny, I didn’t realize he was Ukrainian. I thought he was Israeli.’
Parnas and his attorney have released photos of Parnas with the president and various members of the Trump family, including Trump Jr. and Ivanka.
Shortly after President Trump’s denials aired last week, Parnas’ attorney released yet another new image of them together, this time a video of them speaking at Mar-a-Lago.
Parnas and Fruman face charges of violating campaign finance law.
Parnas has been on a media tour in recent days to talk about his work in the Ukraine with Giuliani. The White House has accused him of trying to stay out of prison.
The audio was made at a fundraising dinner for Trump’s 2020 campaign on April 30, 2018 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.; Trump, above, is seen at the White House on that date
Trump’s limo ‘The Beast’ at the Trump hotel on the night of the fundraiser
Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and David Correia with Rudy Giuliani in the Trump Hotel Washington D.C.
Three days later: Lev and Igor were in California with Donald Trump Jr. and Tommy Hicks Jr., a financier and campaigner Republican
The phone that was recording the Trump conversation reviewed by ABC News appears to be placed down on a table with the audio still recording. The president does not appear on the video reviewed by ABC News.
Parnas, when he appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s show last week, provided additional details on the campaign to remove Yovanovitch from her post as ambassador because she was impeding efforts to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.
Parnas expressed regret over his involvement in ousting Yovanovitch, saying: ‘I want to apologize to her.’
He described the scene at the dinner and said Trump turned to John DeStefano, who was his deputy chief of staff at the time, and said ‘Fire her.’
‘We all, there was a silence in the room. He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can’t do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn’t been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don’t have — this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until — so several conversations he mentioned it again,’ Parnas recounted.
Pompeo had actually already been confirmed by the Senate and sworn into office.
A copy of the recording is now in the custody of federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District, ABC News reported, noting both the prosecution team and the White House declined to comment.
LEV’S PICTURE GALLERY: HOW HE KEPT MEETING THE MAN WHO DOESN’T KNOW HIM
You sure they didn’t speak Mr. President: Lev Parnas’ attorney released this video of them together at Mar-a-Lago
‘I don’t believe I’ve ever met him.’ The House Intelligence Committee released this photograph of the two together in a document dump
Have we met? I’m sure we haven’t! President Trump dismissed a photos of him and Parnas as just taken at a fundraiser - this is one of two taken on different occasions on front of the Florida state flag
Lev Parnas with Donald Trump at the America First Action Superpac Leadership Summit at Trump Hotel Washington D.C. June 18 or 19 2018. Also partially visible right, Donald Trump Jr
No, total stranger, so sorry: President Donald Trump alongside Lev Parnas in Florida before his election
Great to make your acquaintance for the first time: Lev Parnas and Donald Trump at the door of what appears to be Mar-a-Lago
I take thousands of photos: Lev Parnas and Donald Trump have not yet reached that number of pictures together, but there are certainly more than one
And who are you? No, I’m sorry, never met you. Lev Parnas and Trump at Christmas time in an undated photograph