Parnas asserted he was the one "on the ground" doing Trump and Giuliani's work, "and that's the secret that they're trying to keep."
"Why would President Zelensky's inner circle, or Minister Avakov, or all these people, or President Poroshenko, meet with me? Who am I? They were told to meet with me," he said.
Democrats allege Trump abused his office by directing a pressure campaign for Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for $400 million in US security aid and a White House meeting. Trump, Democrats say, then stonewalled congressional investigators to cover up the misconduct.
"I don't know them," Trump told reporters after they were arrested. "I don't know about them. I don't know what they do but I don't know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You'd have to ask Rudy, I just don't know."
During the meeting, Parnas said that "the big guy," as he sometimes referred to Trump in conversation, talked about tasking him and Fruman with what Parnas described as "a secret mission" to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden, the two confidants said.
In the days immediately following the meeting, Parnas insinuated to the two people he confided in that he clearly believed he'd been given a special assignment by the President; like some sort of "James Bond mission," according to one of the people.