Less than a month after federal prosecutors charged Lev Parnas, House Democrats had been preparing for public hearings on the impeachment investigation, and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer dialed up his Ukrainian-born associate’s attorney.
“Joe, it’s Rudy Giuliani,” the former mayor of New York City told attorney Joseph Bondy on Nov. 1, 2019, according to a transcript of the call made public in an exhibit on Tuesday. “I’m calling, uh, to see if we can talk either about or with Lev. I have my lawyer with me, but you can call me back at [REDACTED]. That’s [REDACTED].”
“That’s the soon to be gotten rid of number,” Giuliani allegedly added.
Whether Giuliani intended to leave that additional piece of information is unclear. The former mayor’s penchant for accidental dials is said to have played out in an extended outtake in his voicemail.
“On November 1, 2020, the President’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, left a voicemail message with the undersigned counsel, half of which was inadvertent after Mr. Giuliani forgot to hang up his phone,” Bondy wrote in a 55-page motion on Tuesday, arguing that his client is the target of selective prosecution.
The revelation falls a day after NBC reported that the investigation into Giuliani remains “very active.”
“Mr. Giuliani’s entreaty to speak with Mr. Parnas went unanswered, and it is unknown whether Mr. Giuliani actually altered or destroyed any evidence associated with his cellphone, nor why he might have felt a need to get ‘rid of’ his number,” Bondy continued. “Instead, new counsel informed HPSCI that Mr. Parnas wished to comply with their previously issued demand and subpoena.”
Parnas ultimately shared thousands of texts, emails, photographs, videos and other files with the House Intelligence Committee, which were cited more than 100 times in their impeachment report.
That is what Bondy argues Trump’s Department of Justice sought to avoid with his client’s arrest.
“During the most divisive and corrosive presidency in our nation’s history, the United States Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York (‘USAO SDNY’) elected, first, to open an investigation into Mr. Parnas and co-defendants, given their national origin and his support for President Trump and other Republican Political Action Committees (‘PAC’) and legislative candidates, and then, as part of an intervention by Attorney General William P. Barr, to time Mr. Parnas’s indictment and arrest to thwart him from being able to provide evidence to Congress during the Impeachment Inquiry of President Donald J. Trump,” the motion begins.
On Oct. 9, 2019, Parnas was arrested at Washington’s Dulles Airport, where he sought to board a flight to Vienna. CNN reported that Fox personality Sean Hannity had been planning to interview disgraced Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin at the time, as Trump supporters tried to rehabilitate his image to concoct a conspiracy theory to smear Hunter Biden, as a cudgel against the president’s political opponent.
Parnas has since produced text messages supporting his assertion that he was supposed to assist Hannity in the interview, which never occurred and whose planning the Fox host never denied.
The day before Parnas’s arrest, his then-attorney John Dowd sent an email to a who’s who of Trumpland lawyers: Giuliani, Trump’s impeachment defense team Jay Sekulow and Jane Raskin, and lawyers Joseph DiGenova, Victoria Toensing and John Sale, trying out the invective used to discredit the investigation over Trump’s dealings in Ukraine.
“We are sending this letter to the intel committee to eliminate any doubt that Igor [Fruman] and Lev will appear to answer questions because we are not prepared to do so,” Dowd wrote, referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as “Schifty” and the whistleblower as “fake.”
Parnas ultimately chose a new lawyer: Bondy, who allowed his client to open up remarkably to Congress and, unusually in the pre-trial phase of criminal prosecutions, with the press.
The Ukrainian-born immigrant is awaiting trial for campaign-finance violations for what prosecutors call illegal donations, including to the Trump super-PAC America First Action, and allegedly cheating investors in the company Fraud Guarantee, which Giuliani served as a lawyer.
Giuliani, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, has yet to be charged by his successors in that office, though their probe is said to be continuing. His attorney Robert Costello did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
The Southern District of New York declined comment.
Read Lev Parnas’s motion below:
(Screenshot from a photo released by the House Intelligence Committee)
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