Lev Parnas’ longtime associate wants him to take back documents supplied to Congress, accusing the South Florida businessman of potentially breaking attorney-client privilege.
In a series of letters, Igor Fruman accused Parnas and his attorney Joe Bondy of giving away information potentially protected by Fruman’s attorney-client privilege to Congress.
“Mr. Parnas did not, and does not, have any authority to waive Mr. Fruman’s privilege, or otherwise disclose privileged communications belonging to Mr. Fruman,” wrote Fruman attorney Todd Blanche in a Jan. 22 letter. “My obvious concern is that Mr. Bondy’s hasty efforts to find a forum (beyond MSNBC and CNN) for someone — anyone — to listen to his client’s version of events caused him to irresponsibly produce privileged materials to the HPSCI.”
Bondy argued in a separate, January 24 letter that the burden was on Fruman to “conclusively” prove the matter. He added that certain privileges which typically exist in civil and criminal court proceedings “do not act as a shield for an individual’s compliance with a congressional committee demand.”
Fruman’s demand that Bondy “claw back” documents from Congress follows on months in which the President and his allies have made unprecedentedly broad assertions that their documents are shielded from oversight by various privileges.
Parnas and Fruman initially cited some of these privileges in an October 3 letter to Congress, telling the House Intelligence Committee that they would not comply with a subpoena. John Dowd, an attorney for President Trump, represented the pair in that matter with Trump’s approval.
But after the pair’s October 2019 indictment on campaign finance charges, Parnas split off and fired Dowd as his attorney.
Parnas has provided Congress with a steady stream of information collected as discovery in the case in recent weeks, adding striking, detailed new evidence from a central player in the pressure campaign on Ukraine as President Trump goes through an impeachment trial in the Senate over the scandal.
But while Parnas has attempted to try his case in public, Fruman has remained silent. He has kept Blanche as his attorney, who also represents Paul Manafort in New York.
Bondy suggested in his letter that Fruman’s “interests” continue to lie with those of President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who directed the pair’s work in Ukraine.
“Mr. Giuliani and the President have interests divergent from Mr. Parnas’s wish to cooperate with Congress and the Government,” Bondy wrote. “Mr. Parnas believes that his and Mr. Fruman’s ostensibly joint representation by Attorneys Dowd and Downing was conflicted and intended from its inception to obstruct the production of documents and testimony responsive to a lawful congressional subpoena.”
Blanche argued in a follow-up response to Bondy, dated January 27, that he cannot assess whether Parnas provided privileged material to Congress without reviewing it himself. He added that evidence which prosecutors have provided to Fruman has already yielded “clearly privileged material.”
“Mr. Fruman is not the only person whose privileged information is at risk,” added Blanche.
Blanche wrote that Parnas’s work as a “translator for Victoria Toensing and Joseph DiGenova in connection with their representation” of Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash would also be protected.
“Clearly, any materials Mr. Parnas received as a translator assisting attorneys in the representation of Mr. Firtash would be protected by attorney-client privilege,” Blanche wrote. “And that privilege would be held by Mr. Firtash, the client, not Mr. Parnas.”
Federal prosecutors attempted to have Parnas’ bail revoked last month in part over allegations that the South Florida businessman lied about a $1 million loan he received from Firtash’s lawyer in September 2019. The judge denied the government’s request last month.
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