MANHATTAN (CN) – Just as Congress ends a holiday recess, a federal judge allowed Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas on Friday to share information that could kickstart further impeachment investigations against President Donald Trump.
“Earlier this morning, the court granted Lev Parnas’ request to allow production of certain materials to HPSCI in the impeachment inquiry, which we are doing,” Parnas’ attorney Joseph Bondi tweeted, using an abbreviation for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “As the government produces additional materials, we will seek similar judicial orders.”
Those files — which include documents that authorities seized from Parnas’ house and extracted from his iPhone — had been subject to a protective order before U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken granted an exception for the ongoing House investigation.
One of four men charged in October with funneling Russian money into U.S. elections, Parnas emerged as a key figure in the impeachment inquiry — the only criminal defendant willing to cooperate with House Democrats.
Together with his accused co-conspirator Igor Fruman, Parnas had no history of prior donations before launching into a more than $620,000 spending spree to exclusively Republican politicians and entities shortly before Trump’s election in 2016. Of that amount, $325,000 went to the pro-Trump super-PAC America First Action, via the shell company Global Energy Producers, the indictment of Parnas and Fruman notes.
Though Fruman has refused to cooperate with House investigators, Parnas already has cooperated with their inquiry. The 300-page Ukraine report produced by the committee delves into Parnas’ interactions with other lawmakers like Representative Devin Nunes, the committee’s top Republican.
“In contrast to Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Fruman, Mr. Parnas has begun rolling production of certain records in his possession, custody, or control in response to the subpoena, which the committees are evaluating,” the Dec. 3 report states. “The committees expect Mr. Parnas’ full compliance with the subpoena.”
What Parnas has revealed to date already has put Republicans, particularly in the House, on the defensive.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy received a $2,700 donation from Parnas, and the congressman claimed he planned to donate the contribution to charity following Parnas’ arrest.
Before losing his midterm election in 2018, former Texas Representative Pete Sessions — who received an identical donation from Parnas — urged the ouster of former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Federal prosecutors alluded to this scheme in their indictment.
House Democrats also place Parnas near the center of a smear campaign to discredit Yovanovitch through a series of false and misleading editorials published by The Hill, which is conducting an internal investigation into the articles. Phone records obtained by the House committee showed Parnas on the phone with Giuliani, Nunes and the editorial’s author, John Solomon.
Parnas’ legal team has emphasized that their client has more to share, with attorney Joseph Bondy taking to Twitter with the hashtags #LetLevSpeak and #LevRemembers. The latest order could widen the scope of his cooperation considerably, applying to documents and the iPhone seized by authorities in the Oct. 9 raid on Parnas’ house.
After sorting through the files and extracting the device, prosecutors returned the tranche to Parnas’ legal team shortly before the new year.
In December, prosecutors claimed to have discovered a secret $1 million payment from oligarch Dmytro Firtash to Parnas, via intermediaries. The money went through Firtash’s attorney to Parnas’ wife, which his defense attorneys claimed to be an unrelated loan.
Prosecutors had requested revoking Parnas’ bail, describing the furtive payment as evidence of a flight risk.
Judge Oetken denied that motion at a Dec. 17 hearing, where Parnas’ legal team reiterated their desire to go to Capitol Hill as soon as prosecutors returned the evidence seized by authorities.
“Our inability to do that has, on some level, thwarted and hampered our ability to have him properly evaluated as a witness,” Bondy told the judge last month. “Nonetheless, if he was trying to go anywhere it would be to Washington, D.C., to speak to Congress.”
Asked to describe the trove and confirm receipt of the new data, representatives for the House Intelligence Committee declined to comment.