Trump vigorously denies knowing Lev Parnas after explosive claims

Source: Politico | January 16, 2020 | Myah Ward

The indicted Rudy Giuliani associate said in a TV interview that Trump was fully aware of his Ukraine activities.

President Donald Trump on Thursday repeatedly and vigorously denied knowing Lev Parnas, one day after the associate of Rudy Giuliani made the explosive claim that the president was fully aware of his actions in Ukraine.

Parnas went on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show Wednesday night, claiming the president “knew exactly what was going on.” He said that the president and Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, asked him to urge Ukrainian officials to publicly open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his reelection rival.

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Trump said Thursday that he doesn’t know Parnas at all, and dismissed the existence of photos of him and Parnas together, saying he takes pictures with “thousands of people including today that I didn’t meet.”

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Trump on Thursday also said he had no knowledge of a May 2019 letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that was part of a trove of documents that was turned over by Parnas and released by lawmakers this week.

In the letter, which was obtained from Parnas’ cell phone, Giuliani asked for a half-hour meeting with Zelensky as he was seeking investigations that could boost Trump’s domestic political interests. And Giuliani made clear that he was acting with Trump’s “knowledge and consent” and in his capacity as a “personal” attorney for the president.

The sentiment ran counter to Trump’s recent claims that he pushed for the probes on behalf of the U.S. government.

“I didn’t know about his specific letter, but if he wrote a letter, it wouldn’t have been a big deal,” Trump said on Thursday. “Rudy was always — it was very important to Rudy that I be a great president, and that’s OK with me. It was very important to a lot of people because our country was going to hell. And now our country is on a path that we haven’t seen in decades and decades.”

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