NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors said in court Monday in Manhattan that they expect to file additional charges in the case against Rudy Giuliani pals Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
Parnas, who was arrested alongside Fruman in October, is “under investigation for additional crimes,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also said Monday that they expect to allow Parnas to provide evidence for the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani look for dirt in Ukraine and elsewhere that would be helpful to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. Parnas, Fruman and two others have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to violate federal election law by funneling a foreigner’s money to various U.S. political campaigns and committees. Though the former New York City mayor is reportedly under investigation in the Southern District of New York, Giuliani’s name didn’t come up during the status hearing Monday.
Since his arrest in October, Parnas has indicated through his lawyers that he’s interested in cooperating with congressional committees investigating the President’s potential impeachment.
“We’re not going to object” to sharing electronic and paper records obtained from Parnas with the impeachment inquiry, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind said in court Monday, after Parnas’ attorney Joseph Bondy raised the issue. Those materials are currently subject to a protective order. Judge J. Paul Oetken said he would likely grant the request to share the evidence with Congress.
Parnas has already handed “audio and video recordings and photographs” over to House investigators, ABC News reported last week, but Bondy said Monday that “we don’t have the lion share of these materials” that were seized by prosecutors.
Zolkind said separately that a superseding indictment in the case “was likely” and “something that we continue to evaluate.”
Parnas appeared in court on Monday, but the other three defendants — Fruman, as well as Andrey Kukushkin and David Corriea — were not present.
The indicted Ukrainian-American, his legal team and his wife Svetlana Parnas arrived to the courtroom a few minutes past 2 p.m. Monday. Lev Parnas spoke at times with his lawyers, laughing at one point before the hearing got underway. Over the next hour, he watched attentively, nodding his head yes or no in response to the proceedings.
Most of Monday’s status hearing concerned the ongoing discovery process — prosecutors said a “voluminous” amount of evidence had been seized from the defendants.
Parnas, prosecutors said, was arrested with multiple cell phones and an iPad. A search of his residence turned up a Macbook, more phones, another iPad, and external storage devices. Evidence collected from Fruman included a satellite phone and multiple SD cards.
Defense attorneys complained about the slow pace at which they were being provided evidence, though Fruman’s attorney Todd Blanche said he had received 70,000 pages from the government.
“If any of the defendants want to receive that discovery on a much, much quicker time table, they can give us passwords” to their encrypted devices, Zolkind said. He said separately that prosecutors had asked Parnas’ attorneys multiple times for his passwords.
After Zolkind said the government was prepared to set a schedule for motions in the case, the defendants’ lawyers said they opposed nailing down dates without first receiving more discovery materials from the government. Judge Oetken set the next status hearing for Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.
At one point Monday, Bondy asked the court to make the terms of Parnas’ release more lenient. He’s currently on house arrest in Florida, with exceptions for meeting with his lawyers, but Bondy asked for Parnas to get a couple hours of fresh air a day. Prosecutors opposed the request, citing Parnas’ “extensive ties to foreign jurisdictions” as well as his ties to a “billionaire oligarch living in Vienna.”
That was a reference to Dmitry Firtash, who for years has fought extradition to the United States from Austria on bribery charges. At Parnas’ recommendation, Firtash hired the Giuliani-aligned lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing to represent him over the summer. They subsequently claim to have hired Parnas as a translator.
Prosecutors stressed Parnas’ past access to private jets, and said there was a “significant risk” they’d find out too late if he left the country.
Judge Oetken asked for both sides to write letters to him on the matter, including the opinion of Parnas’ pretrial services officer.
This post has been updated.
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