Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was arrested last month on charges of violating campaign-finance law and has emerged as a central player in the events that led the House to open a presidential-impeachment inquiry, has changed course and will now comply with the inquiry, according to his lawyer.
“We will honor and not avoid the committee’s requests to the extent they are legally proper, while scrupulously protecting Mr. Parnas’ privileges including that of the Fifth Amendment,” Parnas’s lawyer Joseph Bondy told Reuters.
Parnas was subpoenaed by the House on the same day that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, were charged with illegally disguising donations to Republican candidates “for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials.” Their deadline to comply was set for October 16, which passed with neither testifying.
Parnas’s reversal comes the same day of the release of the House testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, who complied with a subpoena and testified on October 11, a day after Parnas and Fruman were arrested. In her testimony, Yovanovitch alleges that the two men, in coordination with Giuliani, were key forces behind her eventual ouster.
“There were two individuals from Florida, Mr. Parnas and Mr Fruman, who were working with Mayor Giuliani, and that they had set up the meetings for Mr. Giuliani with [former Ukrainian prosecutor] Mr. Lutsenko,” Yovanovitch said. “And that they were interested in having a different ambassador at post, I guess for — because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine, or additional business dealings.”