Speed Reads

parnas talks

Lev Parnas says Attorney General William Barr was 'basically on the team'

Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, says he told Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash that in exchange for information that could discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, he would try to stop Firtash's extradition to the U.S. to face corruption charges.

Firtash, who is believed to have ties to the Russian mob, was in Vienna fighting extradition. During an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday, Parnas said he was told Firtash's camp claimed to have evidence that one of Mueller's prosecutors was doing some "illegal stuff," and he was tasked with securing this evidence. John Solomon, a conservative columnist who pushed conspiracy theories, gave him documentation to show Firtash he "was in the loop," Parnas said.

Parnas conveyed to Firtash that they believed he "was being prosecuted for no reason," and "basically, it could be taken care of," meaning they could stop the extradition. Parnas then worked to get conservative husband-and-wife lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova on Firtash's legal team. Toensing and diGenova, staunch supporters of President Trump, also represent Solomon. Parnas said he was told to negotiate $1 million for the couple, plus $100,000 a month in expenses. He received $200,000.

Giuliani, meanwhile, was working in Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and Parnas said they wanted Firtash to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into the Bidens. Parnas told Maddow he was "involved" in conversations Giuliani and diGenova had with Attorney General William Barr, and Barr "absolutely" knew of the effort to get Ukraine to announce the investigation. "Mr. Barr had to have known everything," he said. "Victoria, Joe, they were all best friends. Attorney General Barr was basically on the team." A Justice Department spokeswoman told Maddow that Parnas' account is "100 percent false." Catherine Garcia