Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, told a representative of the incoming Ukrainian government in May that it had to announce a probe into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president and the U.S. would freeze aid, Parnas’ lawyer said, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
Parnas’ claim contradicts President Donald Trump’s version of events and links Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to threats of repercussions made to the Ukrainians, something he has strenuously denied.
However, Parnas’s account remains in dispute, as none of the people involved in the meeting say the intention was to present an ultimatum to the Ukrainian leadership, including Parnas’s business partner, Igor Fruman.
Parnas and Fruman, who were indicted last month on campaign finance charges, have both been subpoenaed to testify before Congress. Parnas’ lawyer said his client will comply as long as he does not incriminate himself.
The only other person at the meeting was Serhiy Shefir, a member of the Ukrainian president’s inner circle. Shefir denied Parnas’ account and said the issue of military aid was not raised.
If Parnas’ account of the meeting is true, it would be the earliest known case of American aid being tied to demands for Ukraine to take actions that could help Trump’s re-election campaign and would represent a more extensive threat —Pence not attending the inaguration — than was previously known.
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