Fighting to dismiss his indictment on the grounds of politically motivated prosecution, the onetime friend of the former mayor says federal investigators seized electronic communications among Trump world insiders last month that are relevant to his case.
MANHATTAN (CN) — In the wake of last month’s sunrise raid of Rudy Giuliani’s home and office, indicted Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas is now seeking a peek at evidence seized from former President Trump’s longtime personal attorney.
Along with fellow Giuliani-linked businessmen Igor Fruman and Andrey Kukushkin, Parnas was indicted in October 2019, accused of funneling political donations through a limited liability company and employing straw donors.
Southern District of New York prosecutors brought additional counts a year later in a superseding indictment, but attorneys for trio sought the dismissal of both indictments “for a gross violation of the defendants’ attorney-client privilege” arising from an email chain with attorneys and advisers related to their joint cannabis business venture.
Amid those talks, federal investigators executed a search warrant in late April of Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment and office, seizing electronic devices in a predawn raid that coincided with the search warrant executed in the Washington area against Victoria Toensing, another Giuliani ally and onetime Trump attorney.
Following the highly publicized raids, Parnas’ attorney Joseph A. Bondy wrote Tuesday to U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oekten on Tuesday, asserting that emails and text message seized in those raids are relevant to Parnas’ pending motions to dismiss his indictment in the Southern District of New York on the grounds of politically motivated selective prosecution.
The letter lists off a buffet of Trump White House insiders with whom Giuliani and Toensing communicated regularly, whose credibility as potential government witnesses Parnas may call into question.
“The evidence seized likely includes e-mail, text, and encrypted communications that are either non-privileged or subject to an exception to any potentially applicable privilege, between, inter alia, Rudolph Giuliani, Victoria Toensing, the former President, former Attorney General William P. Barr, high-level members of the Justice Department, Presidential impeachment attorneys Jay Sekulow, Jane Raskin and others, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devin Nunes and others, relating to the timing of the arrest and indictment of the defendants as a means to prevent potential disclosures to Congress in the first impeachment inquiry of then-President Donald. J. Trump,” wrote Bondy.
“Not only will the seized items reflect the conversations between Giuliani, Toensing and others leading up to the arrests of the defendants, but also the communications immediately following the defendants’ arrests, and subsequent to Mr. Parnas’s decision to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) and to provide information directly adverse to Mr. Giuliani, Ms. Toensing, the former President, and others,” the letter states.
Bondy — himself a prominent cannabis attorney who serves on the Board of Directors for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws — asked U.S. District Judge Oetken to hold a conference regarding the scope and timing of the government’s discovery obligations to ensure that Parnas’ defense receive all discoverable information from the newly revealed searches and seizures.
U.S. District Judge Oetken is presiding over both the Parnas and Fruman case in the Southern District, as well as the ongoing privilege proceedings arising from the execution of Giuliani and Toensing’s search warrants.
Attorneys representing Giuliani and Toensing did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.
A spokesperson for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on Parnas’ request Tuesday morning.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos, who previously landed a three-year sentence for Trump’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen, is in charge of the prosecution of the Parnas case, with help from AUSAs Rebekah Donaleski and Doug Zolkind.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested Oct. 9, 2019, in Washington’s Dulles Airport, where the men held one-way tickets to Vienna, Austria.
The Ukraine-born Parnas was, for a few short years, a mover and shaker among the elite donors, lawyers and lobbyists surrounding former U.S. President Donald Trump. With his then-friend Giuliani, he was a key player in efforts to gin up political dirt in Ukraine, which led to Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives and then acquittal by the Senate earlier in 2020.
But during the impeachment investigation, Parnas flipped, supplying House investigators with thousands of files on the scheme he advanced to pressure Ukraine’s president to open investigations into Trump’s rival, Joe Biden. Despite this, he was never invited to testify.