In a July interview with the Ukrainian publication New-Times, Lev Parnas, a close associate of the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, disclosed that his efforts to help Giuliani launch a disinformation campaign targeting former Vice President Joe Biden were also intended to help Attorney General Bill Barr with his investigation into the origins of the U.S. intelligence community’s investigation into Russian electoral interference in the 2016 election.
Over the years, conservative media figures -- led by Fox host Sean Hannity -- as well as Trump and his Republican allies, have alleged a vast, nonsensical conspiracy theory that the federal investigation into Russian electoral interference was actually an elaborate, criminal scheme to prevent Trump’s election. In May, shortly after assuming his position, Barr appointed U.S. Attorney in Connecticut John Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation. Since then, Barr has reportedly taken an active role in traveling with Durham around the globe to investigate claims that are central elements of the right-wing’s conspiracy theory. Trump, too, has been pressuring foreign governments to cooperate with the probe. The probe is now reported to have evolved into a criminal inquiry, though it is unclear what potential crimes are being investigated.
In the July New-Times interview, Parnas spoke of his and Igor Fruman’s activities to support Giuliani’s investigation, such as connecting Giuliani with several corrupt, disgraced Ukrainian prosecutors. In addition to detailing their efforts to dig up dirt on Biden, Parnas also discussed his hope that their work would be instrumental in Barr’s investigation into how the Russia probe originated.
According to the article, Parnas “told reporters that his and Fruman's work would continue. He hopes the information they gathered will be key to the investigation against Prosecutor Mueller, particularly during his investigation into Paul Manafort. ‘Everything will become clear,’ he said.” Additionally, Parnas “expressed the hope that all the information he and Fruman helped expose would become an important part of the Barr case, and would dominate the debate ahead of the 2020 election. ‘Everything will come to the surface —’ he said. — ‘Something terrible has happened, and we will finally know what it is.’” (Note: The News-Time article is in Russian. Translations were obtained via Yantex translations)
Parnas and Fruman are two Soviet-born con men with ties to Ukraine who worked with Giuliani to concoct the disinformation campaign against Biden and to get the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired, reportedly in the hopes of advancing their business interests in the country. The disinformation campaign also involved undermining the intelligence community and bipartisan Congressional findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections to benefit Trump. The two have since been arrested for campaign finance violations for making allegedly illegal campaign donations to Republican candidates and committees, as well as a pro-Trump super PAC. They also reportedly worked for Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, as well as right-wing, pro-Trump attorneys Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova. This entire group worked closely with conservative writer John Solomon whose columns based on their investigation served as the foundation through which Giuliani and his associates could launch their disinformation campaign in the right-wing media. Parnas’ attorney now claims that Parnas was also working with Republican congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to procure information to smear Biden and that Nunes met with disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin in late 2018 as part of these efforts. Nunes is the minority ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee overseeing the impeachment inquiry into Trump.