Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani, has filed a motion to dismiss the campaign finance charges against him, arguing he has been selectively prosecuted and blocked from providing information to lawmakers seeking to impeach President Trump.
In a court filing Tuesday, Parnas’s attorney alleges New York federal prosecutors targeted their investigation of Parnas because of his Ukrainian background and support for Trump and then later timed the indictment “to thwart him from being able to provide evidence to Congress during the Impeachment Inquiry of President Donald J. Trump.”
“Mr. Parnas’s long-standing assertion that Attorney General Barr ordered the timing of his indictment and arrest as a means to protect the President and thwart his potential testimony in the impeachment inquiry has been substantially strengthened since the time of Parnas’s unanswered January 20, 2020 request for AG Barr’s recusal,” Parnas’s attorney wrote. “Since then the Attorney General has abused the power of his position to further the political interests of the President repeatedly.”
Attorney General William Barr‘s last day in office is Wednesday.
Parnas’ lawyer is asking the judge to allow them to obtain documents and other materials to answer whether Barr was involved in any decision-making in the investigation, as well as why prosecutors chose to bring charges against Parnas and his associates but not others, including those who received the allegedly illegal campaign contributions. Several names are redacted in the court filing, but others, are not, including Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
The superseding indictment, as CNN previously reported, did not include earlier allegations that Parnas and his associates were part of an influence campaign seeking the removal of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Parnas is asking the judge to order the Justice Department to “identify whether any information or testimony of the kind described by Attorney General Barr as having the ‘providence’ and ‘credibility’ problems presented by ‘information coming in about Ukraine,'” and whether any testimony initially presented to the grand jury about the US ambassador had been withdrawn or not presented.
Grand jury challenge
Parnas, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, also is challenging the makeup of the grand jury that voted on a superseding indictment announced this fall.
In several recent cases, defendants have questioned the composition of the grand jury pools and whether they were being judged by a representative jury of their peers due to restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Southern District of New York, jurors are pulled from Manhattan, the Bronx, Westchester and other suburban counties. Several defendants have suggested the grand juries were seated in Westchester County and pulled more jurors from the suburban areas and outside of the city.
Parnas is also asking the judge to sever the charges into three separate trials, one including the alleged straw donor campaign finance scheme, another alleging foreign donations to political races and a third involving an alleged fraud at a company Parnas co-founded called Fraud Guarantee.