A lawyer for Lev Parnas, an associate of U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who has been charged with campaign finance violations, has requested to be withdrawn as counsel because of Parnas' inability to pay both his lawyers, according to a filing made on Christmas Eve.
An associate of U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer charged with campaign finance violations is having trouble paying his lawyers.
Lev Parnas was represented by two attorneys, but on Tuesday night (December 24) one of them asked the court to be excused, saying his client couldn't afford them both.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, GEOFFREY BERMAN, SAYING (OCTOBER 10, 2019): "Today we unsealed an indictment charging Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and two co-defendants for their alleged participation in schemes to violate the federal campaign finance laws by repeatedly using straw donors and foreign money." In October, the Ukrainian-born Parnas was charged, along with another man named Igor Fruman, with illegally funneling money to a pro-Trump election committee and to other politicians, whom they pressed to get the U.S. ambassador to Kiev removed.
And that's not all: Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has said Parnas and Fruman assisted him in investigating Trump's political rival Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
That association landed both men squarely in the middle of the impeachment process.
Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his office to pressure Ukraine to probe the Bidens and remove an ambassador who they thought was an obstacle to their efforts.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) GEORGE KENT, THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EUROPEAN AND EURASIAN AFFAIRS, SAYING (NOVEMBER 13, 2019): "I became increasingly aware of an effort by Rudy Giuliani and others, including his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to run a campaign to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch and other officials at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv." In a further twist, the investigative report produced by Democratic lawmakers outlining the case for impeachment show call logs between Giuliani, Parnas, and a man named Devin Nunes.
That's this guy: the California lawmaker and top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who for months has decried the impeachment proceedings as a sham.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE DEVIN NUNES, SAYING (SEPTEMBER 26): "This latest gambit by the Democrats to overturn the people's mandate is unhinged and dangerous." Parnas's plea of poverty this week seemed to catch some by surprise: Prosecutors earlier this month accused Parnas of hiding a $1 million loan from the lawyer of a Ukrainian oligarch currently fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery charges.
New York-based criminal defense attorney Joseph Bondy, Parnas' other lawyer, will continue to represent him.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ATTORNEY FOR LEV PARNAS, JOSEPH BONDY, SAYING (DECEMBER 17, 2019): "And we're looking forward to defending this matter in this court.
And also in continuing to have Mr. Parnas trying to speak his truth to Congress on behalf of all of us." Bondy has said his client is innocent, and willing to cooperate with investigators.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Bondy wrote, "the legal strategy has not changed, and Mr. Parnas remains firmly committed to providing his evidence and testimony to Congress."