Earlier this week news emerged that Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani confederate, has replaced John Dowd as his lawyer and opened discussions with the House about testifying before the on-going impeachment inquiry. Comments from Parnas’s new lawyers point pretty clearly to the conclusion that he’s looking for immunity in exchange for his testimony. The possibility of immunity hearkens back to the Iran-Contra scandal which led to the prosecution and conviction of Oliver North. But in July 1990 a federal court threw out North’s convictions on the basis of the limited immunity Congress had granted him years earlier to compel his testimony.
That outcome led a generation of political and legal minds to believe that Congress erred by getting in the way of a later potential criminal investigation and prosecution. Subsequent congressional probes have bent over backwards not to get in the way of DOJ investigations. But that conventional wisdom is wrong.