An associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who was indicted in October on campaign finance charges will cooperate with the House Democrats’ impeachment probe, his attorneys said Monday.
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman, made the decision in part because he was “very upset by President Trump’s plainly false statement that he did not know him,” his lawyer told The New York Times.
Trump denied knowing Parnas and his close associate Igor Fruman, though the president has been photographed with the pair multiple times.
“I don’t know them. I don’t know about them. I don’t know what they do … Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy,” Trump said after prosecutors in New York indicted Parnas and Fruman on Oct. 10 on conspiracy charges related to alleged straw donations to several Republican politicians.
Democrats requested documents from Parnas and Fruman on Sept. 30, as part of an impeachment inquiry that is focused on Trump’s actions towards Ukraine. Trump has embraced theories promoted by Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman related to the former ambassador to Ukrainian, Marie Yovanovich, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Giuliani has alleged for months that in 2016, Biden pressured Ukraine’s president to shut down an investigation of Burisma Holdings, an energy firm that had Hunter Biden as a board member.
Trump brought up both Yovanovitch and Joe Biden during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is a central focus of the impeachment probe. Democrats allege that Trump abused his office by asking Zelensky to investigate the Biden-Burisma issue.
Parnas rejected requests from three congressional committees last month for documents and testimony related to his work with Giuliani. Parnas was represented at the time by John Dowd, a former lawyer for Trump on the special counsel’s investigation, but he has since retained a new legal team.
“We are willing to comply with the subpoena to the extent that it does not violate any appropriate privilege that Mr. Parnas may properly invoke,” Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, told The Times.
It is unclear if Parnas also plans to cooperate with federal prosecutors, who are reportedly investigating Giuliani over his Ukraine-related work.
Prosecutors alleged that Parnas and Fruman, who have pleaded not guilty, “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ government.”
As part of their efforts, Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman pushed for the removal of Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine.
Parnas met with then-Rep. Pete Sessions on May 9, 2018. After the meeting, Sessions, a Texas Republican, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleging that Yovanovitch had bad-mouthed Trump.
Parnas contributed $2,700 to Sessions’ campaign on June 25, 2018. Prosecutors said in their indictment that Parnas and Fruman pledged to raise another $20,000 for Sessions, who lost his re-election bid.
Prosecutors alleged that Parnas met with Sessions in hopes of “causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.” They also alleged that Parnas was working “at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials.”