Feds And Parnas Feud Over Why It Was So Hard To Unlock His iPhone

Lev Parnas arrives at a federal court on December 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
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January 22, 2020 12:19 p.m.

FBI agents had to hack into Lev Parnas’s iPhone, prosecutors alleged in a late Tuesday letter, after the Giuliani associate refused to provide them with a password.

Manhattan federal prosecutors made the accusation after Parnas attorney Joe Bondy claimed on Monday that the government was purposefully withholding evidence in a bid to prevent the South Florida businessman from complying with a subpoena in the House’s impeachment inquiry.

“The two largest sources of delay with respect to the Government’s ability to produce the contents of Parnas’s devices to him—including an iPhone 11 that he produced (without objection from the Government) to HPSCI on January 12, 2020—are directly attributable to Parnas himself,” Manhattan federal prosecutors wrote.

The government added that it gave Parnas his phone on New Year’s Eve, but “Parnas’s counsel was unable to figure out how to open the device extraction on his own computer.”

The government added that it provided “a paralegal and technical expert—during the holidays—to sit with Parnas’s counsel to troubleshoot his technical issues.”

It was then supposedly that Bondy began to transfer information from the phone to House panels investigating the President, generating a firestorm of press coverage days before Trump’s impeachment trial was set to begin.

Bondy denied the allegations that he was the source of the delay in a subsequent letter filed in court. He said that prosecutors could have provided the iPhone contents as early as Dec. 3, when the information was first extracted, as well as other paper records. Bondy did not respond in the letter to a separate accusation from prosecutors that he had failed to provide a medium in which to receive the data, but did call the footnote in which the accusations were conveyed “self-serving.”

“Unfortunately, the Government’s complaint about the timing of the production of a 1TB hard drive is appears to be nothing more than a subterfuge, as was the tactic of causing our request to be delayed until after it had made its filing,” the letter reads.

Parnas alleged in part across multiple media appearances that Attorney General Bill Barr was “in the loop” on a plot to have Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash exonerated in exchange for the post-Soviet gas billionaire generating useful to President Trump.

Bondy alleged in the Monday letter that Barr’s supposed role in the as-of-yet unfulfilled scheme demanded his recusal from Parnas’s case.

“In addition to harmful perceptions, this conflict of interest appears to have caused actual harm to Mr. Parnas who, given delays in the production of discovery in this federal case, was rendered unable to comply with a duly-issued congressional subpoena in time for congressional investigators to make complete use of his materials or properly assess Mr. Parnas as a potential witness,” Bondy wrote.

Prosecutors wrote that they expect to deliver all evidence in the case to defendants by mid-March.

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