Parnas says his break with Trump began when a lawyer visited him in jail and told him to “be a good boy.”

WASHINGTON To hear Lev Parnas tell it, President Trumps inner circle feels like a cult, one that Parnas only quit after a fiery breakdown in a jailhouse visiting room following his arrest in October.
Now, the ex-associate of Trumps attorney Rudy Giuliani claims hes telling the story of all the things he did as a citizen of Trumpworld, including the unsavory parts, and the things he now regrets. And, especially, how he pressured the government of Ukraine, the country where he was born, to deliver political favors for Trump.
Parnas, a businessman now facing criminal charges for allegedly funneling illegal foreign donations to GOP political campaigns, revealed more details of his journey through Trumps orbit in a second installment of his interview with MSNBCs Rachel Maddow on Thursday night, including his angry showdown with Trumps former lawyer John Dowd while in jail.
And he revealed just how far hes come: From a former Trump super-fan, to a man now clamoring to become a key fact witness against Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, which officially got underway yesterday.
Parnas now tells CNN he had so much MAGA paraphernalia in his home that his wife was embarrassed when FBI agents, under the aegis of Trumps Department of Justice, arrived to search the place last fall.
Now, hes alleging that Trumps top aides were in the loop about a grand scheme to press Ukraine to announce an investigation of Trumps potential Democratic 2020 rival, former vice president Joe Biden, to help Trump get reelected this fall.
READ: Lev Parnas is a risky witness. Democrats might bring him in, anyway.
Hes already listed several officials who he claims knew all about that effort, including Trump, Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.
Now hes naming even more including former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and the man set to defend Trump at the forthcoming impeachment proceedings, Trumps personal lawyer Jay Sekulow.
And hes making further, if more nuanced, assertions against Americas top diplomat: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trumps energy guy: Rick Perry
Parnas dragged Perry directly into the Ukraine scheme.
Perry was the replacement for Vice President Mike Pence to attend the May inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, after Pence pulled out in what Parnas described as a power move meant to force an announcement of the probe.
American diplomatic support is seen as vitally important in Ukraine as it struggles to end a bloody conflict with Russian-backed separatists in its eastern regions. Ukraine wants the symbolism of Washingtons backing to show strength to Moscow as it tries to reach a negotiated settlement.
Parnas says he told a senior advisor to Zelensky in May that the U.S. would cut all financial and diplomatic support for the war-torn country if the investigation announcement didnt come soon. Ukraine didnt make a statement, so Pence pulled out of the trip to Zelenskys inauguration, Parnas says.
READ: Trump’s White House broke the law withholding aid to Ukraine, GAO finds
Rick Perry went to Ukraine instead and at some point, he delivered the message to Zelensky about the investigations, according to Parnas.
Before the inauguration, Perry called Giuliani, who told Perry what to say, Parnas said. Afterwards, Perry called Giuliani again and said Zelensky agreed to make the announcement.
But Zelensky didnt deliver: He made a bland announcement about battling corruption in general, according to Parnas.
Giuliani blew his lid on that, saying, Thats not what we discussed, Parnas told Maddow. It wasn’t supposed to be a corruption announcement. It has to be about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and Burisma.
Trumps statesman: Mike Pompeo
But Parnas painted a more complex picture of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Parnas suggests that Pompeo was regularly in touch with Giuliani, but seemingly slow to fire the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, despite Trumps repeated orders, for reasons that remain unclear.
Pompeos been hammered by past and current State Department employees for failing to speak out in support of Yovanovitch, whose removal Parnas says was part of a plan to clear the way for the shadow diplomacy campaign to pressure Ukraine over the Biden investigations.
Trump verbally ordered the firing of Yovanovitch some four or five times, Parnas said, only to be stymied when his underlings failed to fulfill his orders. She was finally recalled in the spring of 2019.
Trumps lawyer: Jay Sekulow
Parnas said another member of Trumpland was also in the loop about the Ukraine scheme, despite wanting to stay out of it: Trumps lawyer Jay Sekulow.
Parnas said he spoke with Sekulow on several occasions, and that Giuliani basically told me that Jay was aware of everything, that he brought him up to speed, that I could call him and he was on top of it.
After House Democrats requested records from Parnas related to the Ukraine saga last September, Parnas said it was Sekulow who helped connect Parnas with Trumps own former personal attorney John Dowd.
Sekulow sent Dowd a letter, which Parnas has turned over to Congress, which said Trump approved allowing Dowd to represent Parnas and Parnas associate Igor Fruman.
READ: Lev Parnas just became a big problem for Trump (and Pence and Giuliani and Barr and Nunes)
Dowd then told Congress in a letter that Parnas was exempt from cooperating with their impeachment inquiry thanks to his work for Giuliani, who was working for Trump, and therefore was protected by executive privilege.
Be advised that Messrs. Parnas and Fruman assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump, Dowd wrote in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee.
But then Parnas was arrested in October and he felt like his world shook loose.
Be a good boy
Parnas says his break from Trumpworld came during an explosive dispute with Dowd and another attorney named Kevin Downing, who once defended Trumps jailed former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
After Parnas was arrested, Dowd and Downing came to visit. But instead of reassuring him, Parnas says Dowd effectively told him to be a good boy, stay silent, and take the legal hit to protect Trump.
I think they tried to keep me quiet, Parnas said.
It was his condescending attitude, Parnas said. Like, Who do you think you are?
Parnas told Maddow he felt like hed been abandoned by his former team. In another interview with The Daily Beast yesterday, he said: I felt like my family left me.
He now says he lost his cool with Dowd and Downing that day and switched course, against Trump.
And basically, word for word, and then I said, If you don’t get out of here right now, something bad is going to happen because I don’t want to see the two of you, Parnas said.
And at that point, Downing hit the emergency button and the security took me out and took them out.
Cover: Lev Parnas (C), a Ukrainian-Floridian businessman who is both a client and associate of Rudy Giuliani, leaves with his wife Svetlana Parnas after his arraignment in the Southern District of New York court on October 23, 2019. (Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)