White House

Giuliani Associate Claims He Dangled Pence’s Attendance at Zelensky’s Inauguration to Force Biden Investigation

President Donald Trump looks on as Vice President Mike Pence speaks to reporters following a meeting with congressional leadership on the ongoing partial government shutdown in Washington, D.C., January 4, 2019. (Jim Young/REUTERS)

An associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani will tell congressional impeachment investigators that Giuliani directed him to inform the Ukrainian government that Vice President Mike Pence would only attend the incoming Ukrainian president’s inauguration if they first announced an investigation into Joe Biden and his son’s business connections to a Ukrainian gas company.

The associate, Lev Parnas, met with a representative of the new Ukrainian government in May in Kiev and warned the incoming official that Pence would not attend Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s upcoming inauguration, and the U.S. would freeze aid to Ukraine, if the country did not announce an investigation into the Bidens, the New York Times reported Sunday. Pence did not end up attending the inauguration ceremony.

During a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelensky to help his administration investigate allegations that former vice president Joe Biden, currently one of the top contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, used his position to help Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings avoid a corruption probe soon after his son Hunter was appointed to its board of directors.

Trump held up about $400 million in military aid to Ukraine shortly before the phone call with Zelensky, prompting allegations of a quid pro quo that have become the focal point of House Democrats’ impeachment investigation.

Giuliani, for his part, has denied threatening Ukraine to force an investigation into the Bidens, saying he “never authorized such a conversation.”

“Categorically, I did not tell him to say that,” Giuliani said of Parnas’s alleged message to the representative from Ukraine who attended the meeting, Serhiy Shefir.

Parnas’s business associate, Igor Fruman, who also attended the meeting with Ukraine, has also disputed Parnas’s version of events, saying neither of the two Soviet-born businessmen brought up U.S. military aid or Pence’s attendance at the Ukrainian president’s inauguration.

Zelensky, meanwhile, has since said that “nobody pushed me” regarding investigating the Bidens.

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