Rachel Maddow and Lev Parnas explain why Parnas has publicly flipped on Trump and Giuliani

Peter Weber

After MSNBC's Rachel Maddow aired her interview with Lev Parnas on Wednesday night, fellow host Lawrence O'Donnell told her it was an "extraordinary hour" of television. But "I think a lot of us, as we were watching, had one fundamental question: Why is he doing this?" he asked. "Why has he decided to basically turn on his friends in the conspiracy and talk about the conspiracy?" Parnas worked with Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, to pressure Ukrainian officials to procure dirt on Joe Biden.

"What seemed to emerge today," Maddow said, "is that he really believes that the more he makes public about what he saw and what he knows and what he can document, the safer he is. He's, I think, worried that if the information he's got is only inside his own head or in his own, you know, electronic devices and things like that, that that's too easy — it's too easy to make that go away."

Maddow said there's probably an "implicit" but far-fetched hope that cooperating with investigators and sharing what he knows will help him in his federal criminal case, but "I will tell you, Lawrence, I was convinced until the moment I was sitting there talking to him that it was going to be canceled." She added that for her, the "headline" from the interview was his claim about Vice President Mike Pence's involvement in the Ukraine meddling.

Parnas also told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday that "of course" Pence was aware of what he and Giuliani were doing for Trump in Ukraine, and their mission "was all about 2020, to make sure he had another four years." Cooper asked if that's how Parnas "personally" saw the goal, and Parnas said "that was the way everybody viewed it. ... I mean, there was no other reason for doing it."

Parnas told Cooper he "loved" and "idolized" Trump up to the moment Trump publicly denied knowing him. "The truth is out now, thank God," he said. "I thought they were going to shut me up and make me look like the scapegoat and try to blame me for stuff I haven't done." Parnas volunteered to testify at Trump's impeachment trial and predicted that between him and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, they "could fill in all the dots."

Senate Republicans aren't expected to allow witnesses at Trump's trial.

More stories from theweek.com
Ukraine gives Trump the corruption investigation he asked for
Is the media about to have a conniption fit over Bernie Sanders?
11 Americans were injured in Iran strike, suggesting a 'nearer miss than advertised'