MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge paved the way on Monday for Rudy Giuliani’s associate Lev Parnas to comply with a House subpoena for information relevant to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
“I certainly expect to grant that request,” U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken told Parnas’ attorney Joseph Brody, adding that he hoped prosecutors would turn over the evidence as soon as possible.
“We will,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind replied, explaining that the paper trail seized by the government can be turned over quickly.
Prosecutors would not be turning over the files to Congress directly but rather to Parnas’ legal team, which intends to comply with House subpoenas.
Because Parnas has not provided his passwords, however, Zolkind said the file-transfer process could take some time.
Parnas, a Belarus-born U.S. citizen, has been charged alongside the Ukrainian-born Igor Fruman with using straw donors to funnel Russian money into U.S. elections through limited liability companies. Authorities arrested the pair at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, bound for Vienna with one-way tickets.
Prosecutor Zolkind signaled that a grand jury would probably level more charges.
“We think a superseding indictment is likely, but no decision has been made, certainly,” Zolkind said.
Repeatedly emphasizing that the government’s investigation is ongoing, the prosecutor referred obliquely to possible other targets by explaining that redactions on search warrants do not relate to the charged case. Zolkind also explained that disclosing witness statements prematurely could risk compromising the probe.
That revelation could worry Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, reported by multiple news outlets to be the subject of criminal investigations for fraud, undisclosed foreign lobbying, campaign-finance violations and other charges.
Giuliani’s criminal exposure may widen further as prosecutors amass evidence.
Zolkind estimated that the government has well over 9 gigabytes of data from 29 electronic devices, including a satellite phone seized from Fruman’s residence. Extracting data from the devices could take roughly two months if the defendants do not provide their passwords, he explained.
Before becoming New York City mayor, Giuliani served as a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the jurisdiction now investigating him.
For nearly a month, Parnas has expressed an openness to comply with the congressional investigation. He already provided audio, video and photographic evidence to Congress a little more than a week ago, ABC News reported.
“Mr. Parnas has vociferously and publicly asserted his wish to comply with his previously issued subpoena and to provide the House Intelligence Committee with truthful and important information that is in furtherance of justice, not to obstruct it,” Bondy, his attorney, told the network at the time.
Fruman has not cooperated with the committee, and his attorney Todd Blanche made no such announcement in court.
The hearing brought complaints about the length of the discovery process from all of the defense attorneys. Without a clearer picture of the government’s evidence, they called it premature to set a schedule for pretrial motions or a trial date.
“I don’t want to keep kicking the can down the road until we get a trial date,” Blanche said, asking the judge to put pressure on the FBI and the government to speed up the process.
Attorneys for the other two accused co-conspirators, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, alleged a holding pattern.
“They indicted the case prepared to go to trial based on the evidence they had, presumably,” Correia’s attorney William Harrington told Judge Oetken.
Kukushkin’s attorney Gerald Lefcourt wanted the government to provide a clearer roadmap for the evidence, which he said includes tens of thousands of bank records.
Prosecutors deny there has been unreasonable delay, noting that the men were arrested in October.
“That is not a significant passage of time,” Zolkind emphasized.
A follow-up hearing has been set after the new year, on Feb. 3, 2020.
This story is developing…