Parnas suggests VP Pence was 'in the loop' on Ukraine scandal

Asked whether Pence was aware of a "quid pro quo," Parnas replied "Everybody was in the loop."
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By Steve Benen

In early October, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump "repeatedly involved" Vice President Mike Pence in the Ukraine scheme, including an instance in which the president "instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May -- an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president's calendar -- when Ukraine's new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington."

Yesterday, Rachel explored this in more detail with Lev Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate involved with executing the Ukraine scheme, and he said he'd communicated to Ukrainian officials that Pence would not attend Zelensky's inauguration unless he agreed to announce an anti-Biden investigation.

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The day after Parnas' meeting with a top Zelensky aide, Pence's trip was scrapped.

Parnas also said Vice President Mike Pence's planned trip to attend Zelenskiy's inauguration in May was canceled because the Ukrainians did not agree to the demand for an investigation of the Bidens. "Oh, I know 100 percent. It was 100 percent," he said.

Asked whether Pence was aware of a "quid pro quo" around the visit, Parnas replied by quoting Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who said during the House impeachment inquiry: "Everybody was in the loop."

Maddow said her show asked for comment from Pence and had not received a response.

It's of interest that Parnas mentioned Sondland's "in the loop" quote.

For context, let's not forget this NBC News report from November.

Sondland said Wednesday he directly told Vice President Mike Pence of his concerns about a possible link between the release of military aid to Ukraine and the announcement of the investigations by Ukraine into Burisma Holdings and the 2016 election. He noted that this occurred when Pence was in Warsaw, Poland, for a Sept. 1 meeting with Zelenskiy. Sondland was there, as well.

"I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations. I recall mentioning that before the Zelenskiy meeting," Sondland testified. He added that Zelenskiy, during his meeting with Pence, "raised the issue of security assistance directly with Vice President Pence" and that Pence said "he would speak to President Trump about it."

Marc Short, the vice president's chief of staff, insisted soon after that the purported conversation "never happened."

Watch this space.

MORE: Today's Maddowblog