They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Parnas Ties Ukraine Pressure Campaign To Trump's Legal Team


The former Giuliani buddy said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow was deeply involved in several aspects of the pressure campaign.

Parnas said that Sekulow, for example, held discussions about allowing former Ukrainian general prosecutor Viktor Shokin to get a visa to visit the U.S. Shokin is both the source of and at the center of right-wing conspiracy theories damaging to Joe Biden.

Shokin never received the visa.

Sekulow will lead Trump’s defense team in his impeachment trial in the Senate, along with White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Nineties classics Ken Starr and Robert Ray will also feature, along with self-described Clinton voter-turned-pro-Trump pundit Alan Dershowitz.

Parnas’ comments to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow suggested that Sekulow will arrive at the impeachment trial with intimate, first-hand knowledge of the allegations against the President.

“Everybody was in the loop. Everybody didn’t agree with the loop,” Parnas said. “Jay Sekulow didn’t agree with what Rudy was doing, but he knew what he was doing.”

Parnas added that Sekulow “didn’t want to be involved in the Ukraine stuff.”

The visa for Shokin, Parnas alleged, would have allowed him to come to the U.S. so that Giuliani could “debrief him in front of [Sen.] Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and certain other people like the attorney general.”

That bit of political theatre also never came to pass, but another did: the impeachment inquiry. Parnas told Maddow that after receiving a subpoena from House committees investigating the President, Giuliani introduced him to John Dowd, an attorney who represented Trump for a time during the Mueller investigation.

“It was like a movie to us,” Parnas said, before adding that Dowd initially declined to represent him because his continuing work for President Trump may have constituted a “conflict.”

Dowd purportedly told Parnas that he did not think Trump would waive the conflict.

“[Dowd] didn’t think I had any relationship with the president,” Parnas recalled. “I responded to him and I said, ‘I think he will.'”

The same day, Parnas said, Sekulow signed a letter waiving the conflict, thereby allowing Dowd to represent him.

About The Author


Josh Kovensky is a reporter for Talking Points Memo in New York City. He previously worked for the Kyiv Post in Ukraine, covering politics, business, and corruption there. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago.