Ukraiian backs claims of US extortion to smear Biden

World News

January 16, 2020 - 10:15 AM

Lev Parnas, middle, a Ukrainian-American businessman who is both a client and associate of Rudy Giuliani, leaves with his wife, Svetlana Parnas, after his arraignment in New York on Oct. 23, 2019. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A close associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer says he delivered an ultimatum in May to the incoming president of Ukraine that no senior U.S. officials would attend his inauguration and all American aid to the war-torn country would be withheld if an investigation into Joe Biden wasn’t announced.

Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, made several potentially explosive claims in a televised interview Wednesday night with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The day after Parnas said he delivered the message, the State Department announced that Vice President Mike Pence would no longer be attending the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy.

Parnas alleged that Trump ordered Pence to stay away at the behest of Giuliani to send a clear message to the incoming Ukrainian administration that they needed to take seriously the demand for an investigation into Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate seen as a potential threat to Trump’s 2020 reelection.

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