WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump insisted he doesn’t know Lev Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate who says he helped the president’s personal lawyer dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine, despite multiple pictures of Parnas with Trump and his family.
“I don’t know Parnas other than I guess they had pictures taken which I do with thousands of people,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday. “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.”
Trump also said he was unfamiliar with a letter Giuliani, his personal lawyer, wrote to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, asking for a meeting in the U.S. president’s name shortly after Zelenskiy’s election last year.
“I didn’t know about a specific letter, but if he wrote a letter it wouldn’t have been a big deal,” Trump said.
Parnas said in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday that the president has lied about not knowing what Giuliani and his associates were doing in Ukraine last year, when they sought the ouster of the U.S. ambassador and then pressured Zelenskiy to open an investigation into Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
The Senate on Thursday began a trial to consider House-passed articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power in the Ukraine affair and of obstructing Congress from investigating the incident.
“I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president,” Parnas said. “President Trump knew exactly what was going on.”
Parnas’s lawyer, Joseph Bondy, has posted photos of Parnas with Trump and his children on Twitter.
“I guess he attended fundraisers, so I take a picture with him, I’m in a room, I take pictures with people,” Trump said. “I take thousands and thousands of pictures with people all the time, thousands during the course of the year.”
“I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken” to Parnas, he said.