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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

The Lev Parnas Interview; Lev Parnas Unloaded a Whole Lot of Evidence Against President Trump. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 17, 2020 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to this 360 special, the Lev Parnas interview.

Lev Parnas is a key figure in President Donald Trump's alleged Ukrainian extortion scheme.

He and Soviet born businessman Igor Fruman worked as fixers or middle men operating on the ground in the Ukraine and elsewhere on behalf of the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and Parnas says on behalf of the president as well.

Parnas was on the front lines of Giuliani's pressured campaign to get the Ukrainians to announce an investigation into the Bidens, not he says, to actually lauch an investigation just to announce one.

And he says he on at least two occasions delivered the quid pro quo to Ukrainian officials. President Trump has denied knowing Parnas, but Parnas says the president is lying and he also says President Trump knew exactly what he and Giuliani were up to. And it wasn't about corruption in Ukraine.

Parnas is under federal indictment on campaign finance charges. Just this week documents and records from Parnas's case were handed over to the House and Intelligence Committee. These documents include pages of text exchanges with Giuliani and others. More documents from Parnas maybe released any time soon.

I spoke to Lev Parnas earlier this week, he was accompanied by his attorney Joseph Bondy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: The person you were two years ago, are you the same person you were two years ago?

LEV PARNAS, RUDY GIULIANI'S ASSOCIATE: No, I'm not the same person I was two years ago. Two years ago, I fell into -- you know, I'm not a political guy. I never was in politics. I was just a businessman trying to get by, had my ups and downs and some way, somehow, now sitting back and looking at it and evaluating everything that happened I think there was a reason for it. I think I was recruited. I think at some point because of two worlds collided, as me and Igor

were trying to build a business.

COOPER: Igor Fruman, your colleague.

PARNAS: Igor Fruman, as we were trying to build a business and entering the Trump orbit. It's not the typical orbit that usual -- that I've learned to know just from being around now and hearing that it's not typical, and other administrations, the way this administration was.

COOPER: During the campaign when you got involved it was small, it was --

(CROSSTALK)

PARNAS: Right, there was no -- that's why it's the same people, it's the same faces. So, it was --

COOPER: It was possible to actually get in.

PARNAS: Yes, I mean, it was -- I mean, we were there all the time.

COOPER: You loved President Trump. You --

PARNAS: I loved him. I mean, he -- I mean, when the FBI came to my house to raid and my wife felt embarrassed because they said I had a shrine to him. I had pictures all over. I idolized him. I mean, I thought he was the savior.

COOPER: Do you think you were friends?

PARNAS: Absolutely. I mean, again, I went from being a top donor, from being at all the events where we would just socialize to becoming a close friend of Rudy Giuliani's, to eventually becoming his ally and his asset on the ground in Ukraine.

COOPER: The president has said when you were arrested the president of the United States said he didn't know you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't know those gentlemen. Now, it's possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody. I don't know them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PARNAS: The truth is out now, thank God. Yesterday was a big day for us. I thank God every day. I was worried that that day is not going to come. I thought they were going to shut me up and make me look like the scapegoat and try to blame me for stuff that wasn't done, but with God's help and the great legal team I have beside me we were able to get the information out and now it's out there.

So I welcome him to say that even more, every time he says it I'll show him another picture.

COOPER: He's lying.

PARNAS: He's lying.

COOPER: Your attorney in a tweet had said that there were two times in which you gave the message of a quid pro quo to Ukrainian officials. What were those two times?

PARNAS: I think they were probably a little bit more than two times. But there was -- the first quid pro quo again is when we met with President Poroshenko. That was the --

COOPER: Former president.

PARNAS: The former President Poroshenko.

COOPER: So, what was your message to Poroshenko?

PARNAS: Poroshenko is there (Ph) if he would make the announcement that he would get -- Trump would either invite him to the White House or make a statement for him but basically, we'd start supporting him for, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So that was the first quid pro quo, Poroshenko can come to the White House, will get a meeting with Trump if he announces an investigation.

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: What was the next one?

PARNAS: You have to understand because this was a transition time, he was -- Zelensky just won, he was president elect. And he -- the most -- the number one thing on their agenda was not even the transition, it was to get the inauguration because it was a big thing. He was a young --

(CROSSTALK)

[23:05:03]

COOPER: To show the American backing of the new -- of the new administration?

PARNAS: Of course. Because he had no strength. With Russia, I mean --

COOPER: So, Giuliani cancels his visit because there's a lot of bad publicity about it in the United States, he cancels his visit, you go have the meeting with the high-level official in Zelensky's circle.

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: And what's the message you deliver. PARNAS: I'm basically I told him very strict and very stern that several things, a, that he needed to make an announcement -- Zelensky needed to immediately make an announcement clearly that night or tomorrow within the next 24 hours that they were opening up an investigation on Biden.

COOPER: At that point was there any mention of withholding of aid?

PARNAS: yes. Well, if they didn't make the announcement basically there would be no relationship, not just -- it was no specific military, there was no way there was going to be assisted, there was going to be no inauguration. Pence wouldn't be at the inauguration and there would be no visit to the White House, there would be basically, they will have no communication.

COOPER: So how -- you told the top official in the Zelensky inner circle that if they did not announce an investigation of the Bidens immediately and get rid of some folks around Zelensky who they believed were opposed to President Trump, that there wouldn't be any aid and Vice President Pence would not even come to the inauguration.

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: And what happened? What did they say?

PARNAS: I called, Rudy told him I don't think there's going to be an announcement and he said, OK, they'll see.

COOPER: They'll see?

PARNAS: They'll see.

COOPER: And what happened the next day?

PARNAS: I got called and said that they got a call from them -- basically they found out that Pence is not going to be there, he got cancelled, they said that there was a scheduling problem or something.

COOPER: The day after you delivered that message.

PARNAS: Correct. On the third --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: On the quid pro quo.

PARNAS: Right. On the third, it was Monday the 13th. And then after that, like I think on the 16th or the 15th, I don't remember the exact dates, they had -- because they were flipping out what to do, they didn't want to be embarrassed, they didn't know if anybody at all was going to show up, you know, but they knew Pence wasn't coming, Trump wasn't coming.

COOPER: How did you have the authority to say the Vice President of the United States will not attend the inauguration if you don't do what I say? PARNAS: I mean, that's what I was told to do.

COOPER: Who told you to do that?

PARNAS: Rudy Giuliani.

COOPER: This letter that you gave to the House, the first line in it, which is a letter from Rudy Giuliani to President-elect Zelensky says "I'm private counsel to Donald J. Trump, just to be precise, I represent him as a citizen, not as president of the United States. This is quite common under American law Judaism privileges. I mean, president and private citizen are not the same."

So, he's making a very clear point that he's not representing the interests of the United States at large of American national security, he's representing the interests of Donald J. Trump.

PARNAS: That was always the point.

COOPER: That was. That was always made.

PARNAS: That was always clear, he always made it clear that he doesn't represent wherever we went he said I don't represent the government. I represent the president of the United States.

COOPER: So, anything Rudy Giuliani wanted the government of Ukraine to do that wasn't official U.S. policy, that was a personal benefit to the president of the United States.

PARNAS: Well, you know, when I was doing it, I thought it was all and the same, but obviously now as I could see what the situation, the way it is, I mean, it was strictly for him. But again, I thought he was the -- our leader, he's the chief, he's the president and it was all about 2020 to make sure he had another four years and that is --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: And he -- but that's not how you personally viewed it, this is about 2020, to help him get the next four years?

PARNAS: That was the way everybody viewed it. I mean, there was -- that was the most important thing is for him to stay on for another four years and keep the fight going. I mean, there was no other reason for doing it.

COOPER: Did the president care about corruption in Ukraine?

PARNAS: You'd have to ask him but as far as I know, the only thing we cared about, and we were part -- we were the team, was to get Zelensky or Poroshenko or somebody to make the press release, an announcement into the Biden investigation.

COOPER: Giuliani told CBS News that he was never -- that he never attempted to dig up dirt on political opponents, he was only gathering evidence that would have been helpful to the defense against Mueller and for impeachment. PARNAS: I think the Mueller case was over already when he was doing

that so I don't know what he's talking about.

COOPER: You're saying though, the president knew what you were doing.

PARNAS: The president knew everything I was doing.

COOPER: How do you know that?

PARNAS: Because I was with Rudy every day, he spoke to him every day. I mean, --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You were with him when he spoke to the president on the phone?

PARNAS: I know it's hard to believe, Anderson. I was with Rudy every day, I mean, I was on the phone with him every day. I mean, ask the House Congress, they have my records. I don't think my records would be in the impeachment unless they validated and proved it that, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

[23:10:00]

COOPER: And what did you -- what would -- I mean, what did you hear -- did you -- was there anything you heard Rudy Giuliani telling the president on the phone that was significant?

PARNAS: I heard the president ball Rudy out on the golf course one time because of something he went on TV and said back during the Mueller case. I mean, usually, a pleasant, it depended what the conversation. It's hard for me to sit here and just remember every conversation.

COOPER: Giuliani has now come out and said you're lying, he says that the words you're saying are coming from your attorney and that your attorney is reading -- leading you down the path of Michael Cohen.

PARNAS: I take that as a threat from him because of what happened to Michael Cohen and he knows I'm nothing good or bad to say about Michael Cohen. You know, I know -- we've met a couple of times in our past but we don't have no relationship.

So, I mean, but -- we're two different people. Michael Cohen was his attorney. They had their own relationship and I have no comment on that. And I had my own relationship.

COOPER: In terms of who knew about what you were doing in Ukraine, did Vice President Pence know?

PARNAS: Of course.

COOPER: Because his office has said he was unaware of -- you know that he had met with Zelensky after not going to the inauguration but he wasn't delivering a message of a quid pro quo.

PARNAS: Look, again, like I said, I'm not here to debate. I'm here to get the truth out. I got my records.

COOPER: How do you know that the vice president would have known what Giuliani was up to?

PARNAS: Because we would speak every day. I knew everything that was going on. I mean, after Rudy would speak with the president or come from the White House I was the first person he briefed. I mean, we had a relationship. We were that close.

I mean, we were together from morning to night. I mean, he took me -- I mean -- every interview he would do I would be sitting over there while he was doing the interviews. I mean.

COOPER: So, Giuliani knew everything you were doing.

PARNAS: Everything.

COOPER: You're saying Vice President Pence knew?

PARNAS: I don't know if the vice president knew everything we were doing. I'm sure he was --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: But he knew, he was in a quid pro quo.

PARNAS: Of course, he knew. Everybody knew. Everybody that was close to Trump knew that this was a thorn in the side and this was a serious situation.

COOPER: Bolton.

PARNAS: Bolton.

COOPER: Mulvaney.

PARNAS: Mulvaney. Bolton, I don't think agreed with it. I think there's certain people that agreed with it and didn't agree with it.

COOPER: He called it a drug deal according to Fiona Hill.

PARNAS: I think Bolton is a very important witness because I think between me and Bolton, we could fill in all the dots I think because I was on the ground there and he was over here.

COOPER: And you'd be willing to testify.

PARNAS: I would be very willing to testify.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[23:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Did you want Yovanovitch removed?

PARNAS: Me personally?

COOPER: yes.

PARNAS: I mean, I don't have no personal motives.

COOPER: Did you know her?

PARNAS: No, I don't know her.

COOPER: Did you have an opinion -- you didn't have an opinion about her?

PARNAS: My opinion came from the crowd I was in and over the time I grew more and more and more and more and more and more that eventually I felt like yes, like I hated her because you know everybody hated her and she -- I mean --

COOPER: You say the crowd, you mean Ukrainians or Giuliani?

PARNAS: That's primarily our Trump crowd.

COOPER: And Giuliani would -- he clearly had a reason for wanting her out?

PARNAS: Well, it all started with her, I think she became -- her biggest mistake was not even -- I don't think she would have been gone if it all started with the Shokin visa.

COOPER: She didn't --

(CROSSTALK)

PARNAS: It all started with Shokin visa.

COOPER: The embassy rejected a visa for this former prosecutor to come to the United States, Giuliani wanted him to come to the United States and get attention about alleged crimes of the Bidens.

PARNAS: He was planning on bringing him to Barr and bringing him to Lindsey Graham and bringing him people here to testify and give testimony that about the Biden corruption that because of him --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: So, the American embassy rejected that visa for this prosecutor because they felt he was corrupt.

PARNAS: Well, it was funny. Right. It was funny because he applied -- he has a daughter that lives in the states so he applied, the deal was that he was going to not even apply to come see officially, he applied that he was going to come visit his daughter and then we were supposed to pick him up and bring him to D.C.

And he calls me up and says I got denied, I went back to Rudy and told him -- obviously I relayed the message, he told me, don't worry, I'll take care of it.

I relayed the message back, don't worry I'll take care of it, and this went on several times and so Rudy decided that he got the stuff and had the president call Pompeo and he went to meet Pompeo. They got into basically it was supposed to happen again he came back told me -- there's text messages, obviously you can see, and again it didn't happen and then at some point Rudy just gave up.

COOPER: But that was -- you think that was probably one of the biggest --

PARNAS: That's the biggest thing that put her on --

COOPER: That Yovanovitch did.

PARNAS: To my knowledge the president fired her at least four times or maybe even five times. I mean, once in my presence --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Yes. Explain that. You said that he fired her in front of you.

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: What happened?

PARNAS: That was the first interaction about her. We had -- it was a dinner at a, a private dinner for a super PAC in Washington, D.C. at the Trump hotel. In the conversation the subject of Ukraine was brought up and I told the president that -- our opinion that she is bad mouthing him and that she said that he's going to get impeached, something like that, I don't know if that's word for word but she was --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You said that at the table.

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: Where the president was.

PARNAS: Correct. Correct. And his reaction was he looked at me, got very angry and basically turned around to John DeStefano and said, fire her, get rid of her.

COOPER: You've been described, the position you ended up with, with Giuliani, you've been described as a fixer for Giuliani on his efforts to dig up dirt on the Bidens. Is that accurate?

PARNAS: I don't know what you call a fixer. I mean, that was -- (CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Arranged meetings.

PARNAS: Yes.

COOPER: Got meetings.

[23:19:58]

PARNAS: Well, I mean, that's exactly what I did. I mean, I was the middleman between two worlds. Here I was, I had a partner in Igor Fruman that grew up in Ukraine, had extensive business there, and because of his businesses he knew all kinds of people that were, you know, politicians that --

COOPER: He could -- he had the contacts.

PARNAS: It was all his contacts. I didn't have any contacts in Ukraine. I don't have any contacts in Ukraine.

COOPER: For a guy who doesn't have contacts in Ukraine you were able to get meetings with a lot of very important people in Ukraine. Why was that?

PARNAS: Well, I mean, if the president of the United States tells them to meet with you, I think anybody will meet with you.

COOPER: Everybody you met with knew you represented Rudy Giuliani and by association the president?

PARNAS: I was -- I mean, it was more than that. I mean, the protocol would be is when I would meet like I would give you an example. When I first met Ivan Bakanov who is a close -- one of the close --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Aides to Zelensky.

PARNAS: -- aides to Zelensky and that was the head of the --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: He's now head of the intelligence.

PARNAS: Intelligence service. So, when we first met, he was the first person we met in the Zelensky camp. And when I met him, the first thing I did is I said I represent Rudy Giuliani and he -- I'm going to put him on the phone. I put him on speaker phone, and Rudy at that time told him that I represent the president of the United States and that everything I say, that to be taken with that authority.

COOPER: Rudy Giuliani said on speakerphone to the man who now runs Ukrainian intelligence that you represent Giuliani and the president?

PARNAS: Absolutely. The president directly. COOPER: That you represent the president.

PARNAS: Correct. And that's why they spoke to me and that's why they -- that's I got out of there alive.

COOPER: You can say with a 100 percent certainty that everything Rudy Giuliani did in Ukraine was done with the president's blessing, whether or not he had foreknowledge or was told about it afterward but Giuliani and the president were in frequent communication.

PARNAS: Beyond frequent, several times a day. Rudy wouldn't do anything without the president's -- just like I wouldn't do anything without Rudy's.

COOPER: The argument made by a lot of Republicans during the congressional hearings was not only that the president cares deeply about corruption in Ukraine, so this wasn't just about, you know, a personal benefit for the president but that Zelensky himself has come forward and said I didn't feel any pressure, there was no quid pro quo. You've met with a whole host of people in his inner circle --

(CROSSTALK)

PARNAS: That's a lie.

COOPER: -- throughout the government.

PARNAS: That's a total lie. They're still -- I mean, they're still rocked till this day, they're still not recovered and I don't know when they will.

COOPER: You have no doubt they felt this pressure, this was -- this was a --

(CROSSTALK)

PARNAS: My god, of course, absolutely.

COOPER: -- existential threat to the survival.

PARNAS: Well, the main reason my life was threatened because of that. I mean --

COOPER: So why do you think Zelensky says no, there was no pressure, I didn't feel any pressure?

PARNAS: They're in an awkward pressure. I understand them. And I'm not here to try to call them out and put them even in the worse position.

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: The awkward position is, if Zelensky says whatever he actually feels he still got out -- he still needs aid from the Trump administration? PARNAS: Obviously. And he -- listen, my opinion is this. You know,

loyalty goes so far but I think there's a lot of people in the Republican Party that don't agree, they're good people that don't agree with what he's doing but they're scared. He gets away with everything.

And I would, you know, especially with Attorney Bill Barr on his side and the Justice Department, I mean -- a lot of people are scared. They don't want to get investigated.

COOPER: People are scared of being investigated by the Justice Department on behalf of President Trump, you're saying?

PARNAS: I think so.

COOPER: Does that scare you?

PARNAS: Scares me a lot. And I pray every day that, you know, that's not the case or, you know, God has a way. That's why I was hopeful to get this information out. And now, you know, I'm ready to deal with whatever it is. Because if I did something wrong, I'll take my responsibility but like I said what I was charged with has nothing to do with what we're discussing right now.

I think this is important for national security. I think it's important for the country to find out the truth of exactly what happened.

One of the things you say, Anderson, and you have to understand, when these congressional -- you said during the congressional hearings, I watched them very well and they made all kinds of arguments but there was no proof to back it up.

I mean, they sit there and they talk all this stuff, this and that but they didn't bring one evidence. The Democrats brought all this proof, all this evidence, all this testimony. Show me one witness that came out.

If you really look at it, I should be their best witness. I should be their number one witness because I'm the one that got all the dirt, supposedly, why aren't they calling me to testify, why do they need Biden, call me, ask me what Biden did wrong.

COOPER: Do you think they're afraid of calling you?

PARNAS: I think they're very afraid of me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[23:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Did you ever speak directly to President Trump about Ukraine or any investigations in Ukraine?

PARNAS: We had -- we never had one on one closed off meetings. Our interactions would be at the picture line, so at these events when we'd be pictured because I was not a typical guy that they wanted at the White House because I didn't have the background, the pedigree.

So, it wasn't -- I was like -- they kept me, especially once we fell in the position of recruitment we weren't even allowed to go to a lot of events. We weren't -- that's why certain pictures stop after a certain time.

[23:29:57]

They started distancing after I think the Hanukkah party, after that transition stage. I mean, basically we became more of -- deployed agents, you know, behind the scene than actual donors.

COOPER: Let me ask you about that. At the Hanukkah party, where you were photographed together with Rudy Giuliani as well, there was a report that there had been kind of a sidebar meeting with you and Fruman, the president and Giuliani, in which you were essentially tasked by the president or you felt or you had told people you were tasked on some sort of a mission.

PARNAS: I'll tell you exactly what happened. It was a little bit different than the way they reported it. Again, I didn't have the chance to say it, so I guess somebody said something and by the time the story goes, it grew a little bit. I was no 007, you know, that type of situation.

So we went over to the White House. We didn't go through the regular route where everybody else was going. All the other donors or the Hanukkah party people, they were going through a secured area. We went through a private area. We were greeted by secret service. We walked through and given a little tour of the grounds. Then they brought us through a private entrance into the White House.

At that point, secret service came and said the president is waiting for Mr. Giuliani at his private residence. They asked us to wait with his friends, me and Igor waited with his friends in the lobby. People started gathering, the donors for the party, the Hanukkah party. In the meantime, Rudy was with the president. Then at some point, they said the president is coming out. The president came out and went through the Red Room behind to go make a speech to the public.

At that time, Rudy joined us. He came up and he was very happy and excited and said, I spoke to him, everything is great, you know, very good. And at that point, we were standing, they were having a drink. And then secret service came up and said, President Trump was asking for you to wait at the Red Room. After he's done with the speech, he'd like to see you.

And they escorted all of us to the Red Room where we waited about 10, 15 minutes while he made the speech. And then the president came in and he was there with the first lady Melania and Vice President Pence, first lady and vice president. And also, Jared was there and some -- I think maybe one or two other people, I don't remember at the time. But they all came through.

You could hear the president screaming through the hallway, where is my Rudy. He walked through the hallway, he came in. Right away, you know, we started having conversation, interaction. It was about five minutes. But with the president, you've got to understand it's not like -- that's what people don't understand, that it's not like you're having a conversation.

He doesn't sit there and tell you, I want you to do this. Maybe he does with Rudy and he probably does because -- we'll get to that in a second why I believe that. But with people like myself or people that were around, he was like, everything good, good. It would be like those type of things where made you feel and then Rudy would fill in the dots, that, you know, we've accomplished --

COOPER: When he says to others, go talk to Rudy, that has a meaning?

PARNAS: Absolutely.

COOPER: Just to be clear on this meeting, on this encounter, he never said to you, I appreciate what you're doing on this mission, anything --

PARNAS: No, he thanked us. He said, thank you for everything you are doing and basically -- again, there was a lot of people, there wasn't a full blown conversation, but Rudy filled in the dots afterwards when we stayed there. Plus, he left the room for us to use. I mean, there was -- he walked out the room and let people to come in there to take pictures.

COOPER: And his interaction with you, particularly that time, you felt he knew what was going on?

PARNAS: Absolutely, absolutely.

COOPER: And that's the way he operates.

PARNAS: Not only that, Rudy would tell me he's talking to him, we were texting. I mean -- listen, all my information is out there. I didn't hold anything back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: It sounds like -- I mean, you and I were talking right before we started this interview. You talked about in prison having a -- you called it an epiphany.

PARNAS: Yeah.

COOPER: What was that?

PARNAS: First of all, you know, being arrested, I was never arrested in my life. And to be arrested the way we were arrested in such a, you know, like we were fleeing and, you know, being brought in, the way they treated me in jail and the way everything was transpiring, I started kind of realizing and seeing certain things, especially the first couple days.

I didn't even know what I was doing in there. I had no access to no television, no phones, you know, they just locked me in the solitary confinement one hour a day and, you know, I couldn't get out anywhere else.

And then eventually, I found out through, I think, another inmate or a guard, he was making fun of me, saying that Trump doesn't know me. And I didn't take that too personal at the time because I thought maybe it was for my own safety because there might be people in jail that don't like Trump. You know, he's the president. I'm sure he has reasons.

[23:39:59]

PARNAS: It's not because of anything else, especially two days before that, he gave me approval for John Dowd to represent me or several days. So I knew it wasn't -- you know, I didn't take it personally at that moment.

COOPER: The president's former personal attorney -- one of the president's former attorneys --

PARNAS: Is representing me.

COOPER: -- got permission through Jay Sekulow --

PARNAS: Correct.

COOPER: -- the president's current attorney to represent you.

PARNAS: To represent me. So, I kept quiet. I was thinking, stay quiet, they're going to get me out of here, and then I'll find out what's going on. But then I started realizing nobody is trying to get me out of here. And not only are they not trying to get me out of here, but in my opinion, some of the actions -- my attorneys -- of John Dowd and Kevin Downing, I mean, there's a reason I fired them in my jail cell.

COOPER: You fired them while you were in jail?

PARNAS: Correct, I fired them when I was in jail. They wouldn't even leave. Even when I got out of jail, they still made comments on my behalf. We spent several weeks trying to get them to stop representing us because they wouldn't -- they made sure, you know, they tried to be a part of everything that was going on.

It was the actions of John Dowd and Downing, and then Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing, the people around me that I considered my family. Nobody called my wife and tried to say, like, you know, I'm not a wealthy individual. I know there's rumors and stuff and that all will come out, the truth, everything --

COOPER: Igor Fruman had --

PARNAS: He was more of the financial backer, you know. And there was no help, you know, actually on the opposite. When my wife called Rudy to say that, you know, Lev is getting out in the next couple days and he wants to see you, he said to her that he's not going to see me without an attorney.

And I said to myself, interesting. I mean, this is supposed to be like why he is scared to see me without an attorney. Then I realized because I got rid of John Dowd and John -- and they were scared of how I would react and everything. And then, you know, thank god I was able to hire Joe.

It took some time, you know. At first, I couldn't believe Rudy would turn on me. I gave some time and I sat there and I waited. And I saw the tweets and I saw the remarks that they would keep making and nothing about me, nothing about, you know. I mean, look at Victoria Toensing. For a million dollars, look at how she defends Dmitry Firtash. He paid for it. He gets good representation.

COOPER: Dmitry Firtash is an oligarch, very wealthy person --

PARNAS: Absolutely.

COOPER: They are trying to extradite him to the United States for financial crimes.

PARNAS: Right.

COOPER: And this -- one of the confusing things on these notes, which I'll ask you about shortly, but on this note from -- in which you write in the Ritz-Carlton, it says Victoria and Joe retained $100,000 a month with succession, it looks like.

PARNAS: Succession, yeah. Well, basically, the $100,000 a month was the expenses that they were to hire and the succession was once -- excuse me, once they got -- were supposed to get Dmitry Firtash off from his extradition case, then they would be hired on as attorneys for long term and there would be a succession.

COOPER: And how does Firtash -- I know this is -- I don't want to get too much in the weeds, but Dmitry Firtash, his name comes up because -- was there a quid pro quo that he was offering?

PARNAS: He was never offering. He was actually scared. He was also, you know, I'm not going to say he's a good guy, bad guy. I guess it is not my job to say that.

COOPER: Were they giving him a quid pro quo?

PARNAS: They were giving him a quid pro quo.

COOPER: What was the quid pro quo to Firtash?

PARNAS: Mr. Firtash started realizing that all they cared about, the Trump world, about Biden. He realized that even though he never wanted to help with that, never wanted to get involved in that, but he started feeling that he needed to get -- start helping with that situation because that was what the side wanted.

COOPER: So he gave information about Biden from Ukrainian officials he had contacts with or others, then they would help him out with whom in the United States to get the charges dropped?

PARNAS: That was the -- well, the reason why he even hired Victoria and Joe is because of their relationship with Attorney General Bill Barr and because the -- they said and everybody said nobody could get a meeting that quickly with the attorney general.

COOPER: You're saying that the attorneys, Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, basically would use their access, the offer at least to Firtash, according to you, is they used their access to Bill Barr to get help on the charges against him, he gives information to Giuliani about the Bidens?

[23:44:59]

PARNAS: Wasn't directly to Giuliani, it was to the team, but that's exactly what happened. I mean, he helped whatever way he could have.

COOPER: This actually happened?

PARNAS: Well, yes. I mean, they got a meeting with Bill Barr. I was there when Joe diGenova was on the phone with Attorney General Barr to set up the meeting and to rush it and explain why it needed to be rushed and why that's important. Bill Barr basically did it as a favor to Joe diGenova.

And actually Rudy Giuliani gave up one of his timeslot because he was supposed to meet up with Attorney General Barr on a different case he was representing in Venezuela. And it was, I think, Labor Day coming up and Attorney General Barr was leaving on vacation on Tuesday and this was a Friday. And they called him to make sure to set it up so they could meet him because they were worried that Mr. Firtash could get extradited any day and they wanted to make sure to get that stopped.

COOPER: Did it work?

PARNAS: He's not here.

COOPER: Do you know for a fact -- did Bill Barr know what Giuliani was up to?

PARNAS: When you say, do I know, I mean, I'm not friends with Bill Barr. I didn't associate with him. But just -- like some people say, follow the money, follow the trail, follow the information.

COOPER: That's been the criticism or at least that the president views him as his attorney general, not the country's attorney general.

PARNAS: The president doesn't have too many friends near him and most people, you know, don't understand that. I don't even know how he is able to run the country because -- I mean, with the -- he doesn't have too many allies even though people that support him or people are always undermining him.

But his loyal group is Rudy Giuliani, Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova. I mean, those are people that, you know, they always say ride or die. They're with him. There are certain comments that Rudy made to me that now would make sense, like, he's the only one that could have a private conversation with nobody in there with the president.

Victoria and Joe are very instrumental in all the pardons the president does, they help out. They are involved. He talks to them constantly. They're at the White House, takes their advice. And they told me several times that they got Bill Barr his job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Who is -- who is Robert Hyde?

(LAUGHTER)

PARNAS: I think he's irrelevant to this whole thing, so I don't want to make more of him than he is. He's an individual that is a character in the Trump world.

COOPER: He is running for Congress now in Connecticut.

PARNAS: I heard that. I didn't know that until recently.

COOPER: You knew him from where?

PARNAS: I know him from the Trump Hotel. He was always a regular.

COOPER: Just hanging out at the Trump Hotel?

PARNAS: Yeah. That was the --

COOPER: It's like a scene there at --

PARNAS: It's Trump world, basically. It's everybody -- all these senators and congressmen and lawyers and lobbyists. Anybody that is a Trumper goes only to the Trump Hotel. They don't go to any other. And no Democrats come there. It becomes like when you're there every day, it's like, you know, it becomes -- when you're with your friends at a party, you become friends also with people you don't know.

COOPER: Like a frat.

PARNAS: It's like a frat, exactly. It's like a college all of a sudden. Day one, you might see faces. But by day 30th, you guys are all drinking together and everybody is buddy-buddy.

COOPER: In the text messages, he is suggesting -- he is presenting it as though he has some sort of security contacts or contractor contacts on the ground, some contacts on the ground who have the inside scoop or monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch. Did you believe it at the time that that was actually happening?

PARNAS: I didn't take it seriously because, like I said, Robert Hyde, I don't want to say anything bad about him because he never did anything bad to me. I mean, he was always nice to me, wanted to hang out with me.

COOPER: He writes after receiving the articles you sent, he said he can't believe Trump hasn't fired this bitch, I'll get right into that. Then he texted, she is under heavy protection outside Kyiv, let me know when she is on the move. Then he texts they're willing to help if we, you -- they being his alleged contacts -- if we, you would like a price. I guess you can go anything in Ukraine with money. What I was told. You responded LOL.

PARNAS: I was laughing. I was like, are you kidding me?

COOPER: I mean, what you're saying though is he's suggesting he has contacts with people who could commit a violent act against the U.S. ambassador, and you can do anything with money.

PARNAS: I'll be honest with you. If I thought it was real, I would have contacted the authorities. I mean, there were certain cases. I mean, even one time we were in Washington, D.C. where somebody on the street made a threat against the president, and we called secret service. If I thought it was a -- I mean, I love the president.

COOPER: But he's talking about Yovanovitch. You didn't love Yovanovitch.

PARNAS: But it was still -- it's our country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:55:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: If you could say anything to the president, what would you say to him?

PARNAS: He's not a king. He needs to understand that there's a democracy. There are rules even if you don't like them, even if you don't agree. It's all fun and dandy going to these rallies and standing up in rally. I was there. I was front stage. I was the first one at the Trump straws but it's scary if he wins another four years.

I think -- I don't know what will happen. I don't know what will happen to me because I guess I'm enemy number one right now. So, you know, I pray that I have good counsel and I'll be protected and we'll fight this. But I'm glad the truth is out. I feel good. I feel good that I was able to do my civil duty in front of Congress. And I'm here to help the Senate, Congress.

And hopefully, I want to look at the GOP senators and let them know that I'm here. You know, not just the Republicans, the Democrats. You should know the truth. You can validate it. You have all my information.