Lev Parnas, ex-Giuliani associate, testified allegations against Bidens are false and 'spread by the Kremlin'

WASHINGTON — Ex-Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas slammed former President Donald Trump and his associates for pushing what he said were false allegations against the Biden family during the House Oversight Committee’s hearing Wednesday in the GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

Parnas, a Ukrainian American businessman who worked closely with former Trump attorney Giuliani in 2018 and 2019 to try to find damaging information about the president, appeared as a witness at the invitation of committee Democrats alongside Hunter Biden’s former business partners Tony Bobulinski and Jason Galanis.

“The American people have been lied to, by Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and various cohorts of individuals in government and media positions,” Parnas said in his opening statement. “They created falsehoods to serve their own interests knowing it would undermine the strength of our nation.”

Parnas called out Trump allies in Congress, such as former Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., as well as some prominent right-wing media figures for spreading misinformation about the Bidens.

“Congressman Pete Sessions, then-Congressman Devin Nunes, Senator Ron Johnson and many others understood they were pushing a false narrative,” he said. “The same goes for John Solomon, Sean Hannity and media personnel, particularly with Fox News, who use this narrative to manipulate the public ahead of the 2020 elections. Sadly, they are still doing this today as we approach the 2024 elections.”

Parnas maintained during the hearing that there was no evidence of Biden family corruption involving Ukraine and that the baseless accusations against the president came from the Russian government.

“The only information ever pushed on the Bidens and Ukraine has come from one source and one source only: Russia and Russian agents,” he said, adding that impeachment proceedings against Biden were “predicated on a bunch of false information that is being spread by the Kremlin.”

politics political (Frank Thorp V / NBC News)

politics political (Frank Thorp V / NBC News)

In an interview with NBC News after his testimony, Parnas was asked whether he was concerned that the Republican-led hearings and impeachment inquiry are helping Russia. “Absolutely,” he said.

“The bottom line is they’re not getting down to the truth. All they are doing is pushing the same Russian narrative and propaganda,” Parnas added.

Ted Goodman, a representative for Giuliani, told NBC News that Parnas is “desperate” and “not to be trusted.” Goodman did not respond to specific questions about Parnas’ testimony that Giuliani knew at the time that the sources of information originated from Russian agents or the Kremlin.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Parnas noted the recent indictment of former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, who is accused of providing false intelligence about the president and his son during the 2020 presidential campaign. Prosecutors said the information Smirnov shared about the Bidens came from “officials associated with Russian intelligence” and that he was peddling “new lies that impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November.” Smirnov has pleaded not guilty.

Parnas also referred to an arrest in November on allegations of treason of a Ukrainian lawmaker who aided Giuliani in his unsuccessful efforts to find information about the Bidens and has claimed he is innocent of the recent charges.

“I believe that what we are facing now is the culmination of a much larger plan for Russia to crush Ukraine by infiltrating the United States,” Parnas said.

Parnas claimed that he has tried to convey information to federal prosecutors since late 2019, including the former special prosecutor who investigated claims against the Bidens, Scott Brady, but was “ignored” by the Justice Department.

Brady and a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh declined to comment.

In a statement to NBC News, Parnas’ attorney, Joe Bondy, said that since his client first appeared in the Southern District of New York in October 2019, he had been prepared to meet with federal prosecutors and provide information to them, including about Trump and his private counsel.

“We asked (then-Attorney General) Bill Barr to recuse himself over what we believed was his actual conflict of interest, with no response,” Bondy said. “We reached out to former U.S. Attorney Scott Brady’s Office to proffer information, with no reply at all. Had anyone let Lev speak back then, perhaps America would have been in a vastly different place today.”

Throughout his testimony, Parnas insisted Giuliani understood the origins of the information they were receiving in their efforts to find dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden. He said that he had tried to warn Giuliani about the lack of credibility of those sources of information and that Giuliani agreed with his take but continued to work with those people.

Parnas compared his time working with Giuliani and others on behalf of Trump to being in a “cult” and described his arrest for wire fraud and campaign finance violations as a wake-up call.

“Eventually you’ve brainwashed yourself to believing certain things that are not true,” he said, adding that he had time to reflect when he was arrested and “really understand what was going on.”

“I started thinking myself that this, this can’t be true. And we were doing something wrong,” he said.

Parnas previously urged the Republican-led House Oversight Committee to end its probe into the Biden family, saying in a letter to Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., last year that there was no evidence to implicate the president or his son.

“With all due respect, Chairman Comer, the narrative you are seeking for this investigation has been proven false many times over, by a wide array of respected sources,” Parnas wrote. “There is simply no merit to investigating this matter any further.”

Comer said in his closing statement for Wednesday’s hearing that he plans to invite Biden to testify before his committee “to provide his testimony and explain why his family received tens of millions of dollars from foreign companies with his assistance.”

“We need to hear it from the president himself,” Comer said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Comer’s statement. But White House spokesman Ian Sams blasted the hearing.

“That hearing was embarrassing for House Republicans. A total waste of time,” Sams said. “It’s time to move on from this sad charade. There are real issues the American people want us to address.”

Parnas, who had cooperated in Trump’s first impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine, was convicted of fraud and campaign finance crimes in 2021. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution for the charges.

In his interview with NBC News, Parnas said his public remarks since his conviction have come “at a very big cost” to himself and his family, citing death threats he has received.

Hunter Biden and his former business associate Devon Archer declined to appear at the Oversight Committee’s hearing Wednesday.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell decried the scheduled hearing as a “carnival sideshow” and said his client would appear only if the committee also “scheduled a legitimate hearing” that included “relatives of former President Trump,” including his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

In a copy of a letter to the Oversight Committee that was obtained by NBC News, Archer’s attorney, Matthew Schwartz, contended that his client did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

Sarah Fitzpatrick reported from Washington and Summer Concepcion from New York.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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