Seven days in january:
last call with lev

Seven days in january


Last Call with Lev Parnas

Published September 2, 2022

On June 29, 2022, Judge J. Paul Oetke of the Southern District of New York sentenced Lev Parnas to 20 months in prison for wire fraud, illegal campaign contributions, and false statements. With his lawyer, Joseph A. Bondy at his side, Parnas reportedly had tears in his eyes as he apologized to those present in the courtroom whom he had harmed.

Judge Oetkeof did not agree with Bondy that Parnas’ cooperation with the House Intelligence Committee was extraordinary enough to let him off the hook with time served.  The 20-month sentence, however, was far short of the eight years demanded by prosecutors, partially vindicating Bondy's two-year strategy of revealing the decaying innards of what Parnas told The Knows was Trump’s efforts to “control the narrative.”

Just days before his September 1 report date to Otisville’s Federal Correctional Institution in upstate New York, Parnas called in for a special bonus episode of the Seven Days in January podcast that details the backroom deals and shadowy figures involved with the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

His trial behind him, Parnas provided fresh details of his five years at the center of the mass psychosis that emerged out of Donald J. Trump’s efforts to control narratives surrounding his relationships to Russia and Ukraine.

“I’m just happy that my case is over,” Parnas said during a Sunday phone call. “Thursday I’m going to go surrender and pay my debt to society for the wrongs I have done.” 

Parnas described his sentence as his “responsibility” and said he is “already a new man.”

An infamous associate of former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Parnas revealed new details of Trump’s backchannel relationship with pro-Russian elements in Ukraine and hinted at forthcoming revelations in the wake of his cooperation with the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the matter. 

The former Florida businessman and translator for Giuliani played a major role in the proxy campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings with gas conglomerate Burisma. 

Parnas explained how then-candidate Trump first became obsessed with the now war-torn country, based on an obstinate belief that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Parnas said that Roman Nasirov, former head of Ukraine’s State Fiscal Service sought to insulate himself from a corruption investigation by developing a backchannel with the Trump camp through Parnas and his partner Igor Fruman. According to Parnas, Nasirov feigned interest in a real estate deal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, in order to open a relationship with the Trump camp. 

Parnas described to The Knows his December 2016 introduction of Nasirov to Trump at an event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The encounter, apparently filmed by Parnas’s then-partner Fruman, was revealed in January 2020 via a tweet by Parnas’s attorney.

According to Parnas, Nasirov came to the U.S. “under false pretenses trying to build a relationship between Trump and Poroshenko to save his butt and use that as leverage.” 

Parnas said that Nasirov’s efforts angered officials in Ukraine and did not prevent the March 2017 arrest in Kyiv of the then-head of the nation’s tax and customs service on charges of helping pro-Russian oligarch Oleksandr Onyshchenko deprive Ukraine’s Fiscal Service of $75 million in taxes from a gas deal. 

Parnas also provided exclusive new details of Poroshenko’s ongoing attempts to court the Trump administration. The effort, kicked off by Giuliani’s June 2017 visit to Kyiv, resulted in Ukraine receiving 210 Javelin missiles and 35 launchers in exchange for providing deals for U.S. company Xcoal Energy located in the swing state of Pennsylvania. Parnas said the June 2017 deal was “the first quid-pro-quo” between Ukraine and the Trump administration. Parnas also provided new details of Poroshenko’s June 2017 Oval Office meeting with Trump

Perhaps the most explosive claim made on the call with Parnas was his assertion that a retracted BBC story about Poroshenko’s reportedly brief visit with Trump may have, in the end, been at least partially accurate. 

Parnas said that “maybe the wording” of the original BBC report was in error, but not necessarily its substance. He said a $400,000 payment to Michael Cohen from Ukrainian sources was key to unlocking the former president of Ukraine’s access to the Oval Office: “Michael Cohen made the phone call that dragged him into the Oval.”

Parnas pointed to a lobbying contract between BGR Government Affairs and the National Reforms Council of Ukraine, represented by former top Poroshenko aide Boris Lozhkin, as ground zero of the larger deal Trump and his cohorts envisioned for Ukraine. 

BGR’s Ukraine efforts were led by former US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker. Volker would return to diplomatic duty and play a role in the 2019 impeachment drama.

Many details provided by Parnas for the podcast appear to comport with previously reported details about a three-hour meeting with Poroshenko in February 2018 during the Giuliani-led push to persuade successive Ukrainian governments to investigate Hunter Biden in an attempt to derail the candidacy of Joe Biden. According to Parnas, Trump himself sent him to speak with Poroshenko.

Parnas described Poroshenko as “pissed off” at the meeting, later complaining that Trump was disloyal. Nonetheless, Parnas was able to successfully pass on messages Trump and Giuliani wished to route to the Ukrainian president.

During the interview, Parnas appeared to confirm several reports by investigative reporter Murray Waas regarding Ukraine’s ceasing cooperation around September 2017 with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian foreign influence in the 2016 election. 

“Well, basically in Ukraine at that point,” Parnas said when asked about Waas’s reporting, Ukraine was trying to do whatever they could to get in the good graces of Trump… basically they were making their bet on Trump.”

Also in September 2017, at the UN General Assembly, Trump described the budding deals between the countries as “a story that is pretty untold” and indulged in a photo opportunity with Poroshenko.  

Parnas also relayed to The Knows exclusive insights on the actions of John Solomon and Kash Patel regarding alleged misuse of classified documents in the efforts to discredit Candidate Biden and get U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich fired. According to Parnas, Solomon became part of the backchannel effort in January 2019. 

Parnas explained that while those involved sought to have key documents declassified, Trump had refused. 

“They all pushed [Trump] to declassify documents and he never did,” Parnas said. “They would argue with him. He knew what it was to declassify but he didn’t do it because he was scared that by declassifying it would get out to the whole public... he wanted to control the narrative.”

Parnas tantalizingly hinted that “there is going to be a lot I’m going to be able to talk about,” dangling new revelations. “With God’s help there might be some very big things happening towards the end of the year,” he said, cryptically expressing hopes that he will be “able to speak more openly.” 

This special episode of Seven Days in January marks the first time Parnas, following his trial, has openly discussed many of these issues. 

“He’s never attacked me,” Parnas ominously said, adding he has “receipts on everything” and that “I’m the only person Trump can’t rebut, has never tried to rebut.”