Politics

Judge rules that Parnas can turn over documents to Congress, as more charges are likely

When Rudy Giuliani’s friends, clients, tour guides, and assistants were picked up at Dulles Airport on Oct. 10, it was clear that federal attorneys weren’t really prepared to arrest the pair. It was the idea that the two were getting ready to head out of the country again—and that Giuliani was planning to follow them to Vienna that evening—that forced the government’s hand and had them bring Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman in on charges related to making illegal foreign contributions of numerous Republicans, including Donald Trump.

But now that there’s been more time to develop the case against Parnas and Fruman, it’s clear that the count of charges against them has nowhere to go but up. And up. Not only does Parnas have a starring role in the House Intelligence Committee impeachment report as the man who was talking to everyone—including ranking Republican committee member Devin Nunes—assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind appeared at a pretrial hearing on Monday and flat-out told the judge that more charges were likely. And, according to Politico, those additional charges might not all be aimed at Parnas and his partner in thuggery, Fruman. There are possible “additional defendants” in the works.

In fact, Parnas and Fruman don’t appear to be at the center of this case at all. Their arrest was required just because they had those tickets to ride to Vienna, where their friend, employer, and also already indicted oligarch Dmytro Firtash has been cooling his hills in luxury for years. This case, which includes at a minimum charges of violations of election law, perjury, falsifying records, conspiracy against the United States, appears to be “part of a broader probe that is looking at numerous people in Giuliani’s orbit.”

While it’s clear that Giuliani’s orbit revolves around the Oval Office, it’s not certain just who else might be caught up in the obvious and clumsy schemes to feed foreign contributions to Republican candidates. But we might soon know. Not only has Parnas’ lawyer been avidly signaling his client’s willingness to talk to anyone about his connections to Giuliani, Trump, and company—the judge also ruled on Monday that Parnas can turn over documents to the House impeachment inquiry.

The House Intelligence Committee had already directed a subpoena in Parnas’ direction, but complying with the request was on hold until Monday’s hearing. Now Parnas is ready to start explaining his role—one in which he has been listed as Giuliani’s client, his assistant, his guide, and his translator while in Ukraine.

On Monday, Judge J. Paul Oetken declared that it would be in the “public interest” for Parnas to ship his documents to Congress. It’s unclear just what these documents contain, but seeing that phone records included in the House report show Parnas chatting frequently with Nunes, Giuliani, and The Hill editor John Solomon, it seems certain that Parnas has information both about the scheme to oust Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as well as Giuliani’s efforts to find someone in Ukraine willing to support Trump’s conspiracy theories against Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Parnas’ next day in court will not be until Feb 3. But long before that, his documents will be in the hands of the House investigators. And Parnas may get his chance to tell his side of the scheme … which promises to be vastly entertaining. For everyone except Trump, Giuliani, and Nunes.


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