Parnas calls out GOP rep at hearing for ‘doing the bidding’ of Russia

Parnas calls out GOP rep at hearing for ‘doing the bidding’ of Russia

Lev Parnas, a convicted former aide to Rudy Giuliani, named members of Congress on Wednesday he alleged were “doing the bidding” of Russia by attempting to dig up “dirt” on President Biden during his 2020 campaign.

At a GOP-led House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing titled “Influence Peddling: Examining Joe Biden’s Abuse of Public Office,” Parnas named Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) during his testimony as collaborators in their efforts.

The accusation came in response to ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who asked Parnas how he and Giuliani were “able to take these false allegations, peddled by corrupt officials and Russian agents, and promote and amplify them here in the United States, in our political system.”

“Weren’t media groups skeptical of your claims?” Raskin asked.

“Most media groups — I’d probably say all, except for Fox and a few other right-wing media groups — didn’t want to take any of the information, and that aggravated Rudy Giuliani and John Solomon and other players,” Parnas said. “And the main group that it was being pushed through was Fox — Sean Hannity and some other media personalities over there.”

“But then there was also other people that were doing the bidding for the Russians — people in Congress, like Sen. Ron Johnson, like Congressman Pete Sessions, who sits here right now,” Parnas said, gesturing toward the Texas congressman, who sits on the committee.

Sessions, Parnas continued, “was with me from the very beginning on this journey, into finding of the, giving dirt on Joe Biden.”

A spokesperson for Johnson fiercely refuted the accusation as “completely baseless” and a “despicable lie.”

“There is nothing in Senators Johnson and Grassley’s reports on Biden family corruption that has ever proven to be untrue,” the spokesperson said. “Anyone who ties Senator Johnson’s legitimate and accurate oversight work to Russia is amplifying a despicable lie that Democrats spread in 2020 to discredit the senator’s work and protect Joe Biden.”

The Hill has reached out to Sessions for a response.

Solomon defended his work in a tweet, and invited Congress to contact his lawyers for more information. The Hill published a review of Solomon’s opinion columns on Ukraine in February 2019.

Parnas, whom Democrats selected as a witness, was indicted on fraud and campaign finance crimes and was sentenced to 20 months in prison in 2022. Since he was released last September, Parnas has been outspoken against Republican efforts to push the narrative that President Biden took action in Ukraine to benefit his son, Hunter Biden.

The indictment accused Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman, who was also indicted, of heavily lobbying an unnamed congressman for the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The indictment said they “committed to raise $20,000 or more for a then-sitting U.S. Congressman.”

The unnamed congressman, “Congressman-1,” was later reported by multiple outlets to be Sessions. A grand jury then subpoenaed Sessions for documents about his relationship with Giuliani and the associates who were indicted.

Sessions denied any “wrongdoing” following Parnas’s and Fruman’s arrests, saying in a statement at the time that if he were indeed the unnamed congressman mentioned in the indictment, he “could not have had any knowledge of the scheme described in the indictment or have involvement or coordination of it.”

“I have been friends with Rudy Giuliani for more than 30 years,” Sessions added at the time. “I do not know what his business or legal activities in Ukraine have been.”

Updated at 4:31 p.m. EDT

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