1. ITV Report

Aide to Donald Trump's lawyer says US President 'knew exactly what was going on' with Ukraine

Lev Parnas explained why he wants to testify as part of the impeachment investigation. Credit: AP

An aide to Donald Trump's lawyer has said the US President "knew exactly what was going on" regarding alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating former vice-president Joe Biden and his son.

The Ukraine scandal has led to Mr Trump's impeachment, the formal articles of which were marched to the Senate late on Wednesday, setting the stage for only the third trial to remove a president in American history.

Mr Trump complained anew it was all a "hoax", even as fresh details emerged about his efforts in Ukraine.

Lev Parnas, who has been implicated in an alleged attempt to pressure the Ukrainian Government told MSNBC why he wants to testify as part of the impeachment investigation.

The aide to Rudy Giuliani also questioned why high-ranking officials wanted to meet with him, if not as part of the Ukraine investigation.

Lev Parnas alleged that he delivered an ultimatum in May to the incoming president of Ukraine that no senior US officials would attend his inauguration and all American aid to the country would be withheld if an investigation into Joe Biden was not announced.

The day after Mr Parnas claimed he delivered the message, the US State Department announced that vice president Mike Pence would no longer be attending the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy.

Mr Parnas alleged that Mr Trump ordered Mr Pence to stay away at the behest of Mr Giuliani to send a clear message to the incoming Ukrainian administration that they needed to take seriously the demand for an investigation into Mr Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate seen as a potential threat to Mr Trump’s 2020 re-election.

Mr Parnas claimed that every communication he had with Mr Zelenskiy’s team was at the direction of Mr Giuliani, whom he regularly overheard briefing Mr Trump about their progress by phone.

Donald Trump complained the impeachment is a 'hoax'. Credit: AP

Mr Parnas told The Rachel Maddow Show President Trump was “aware of all his movements”.

He said: “President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements.

"I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials.

"I mean, they have no reason to speak to me.

“Why would President Zelenskiy's [the Ukrainian President] inner circle or Minister Avakov or all these people or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am I?

"They were told to meet with me. And that's the secret that they're trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work.”

If true, Mr Parnas’s account undercuts a key Republican defence of Mr Trump deployed during the ongoing impeachment fight — that Mr Trump’s withholding of vital military aid to Ukraine last summer was not a quid pro quo for Biden investigations because Mr Zelenskiy did not know the money was being held up.

Mr Parnas also accused the president of lying when asked about Trump’s comments that he “doesn’t know” him.

He said he never “watched football” with the president and they were “not friends” but insisted “he knew exactly who I was”.

“I had a lot of one-on-one conversations with him at gatherings where they would have special, like these roundtables where there'd be only six people at a table,” he said.

“We've had several of those. And basically, I mean, I was with Rudy Giuliani], I mean, four or five days out of the week I mean and I was in constant contact with him.

“And I was with Rudy when he would speak to the president plenty of times. I mean, So, it's just ludicrous.”