Trump's Ukrainian goombahs are claiming executive privilege

Trump's Ukrainian goombahs are claiming executive privilege

by digby

One of Rudy's Ukrainian biddies was in court this morning:

One of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered in the investigation could be subject to executive privilege.

The unusual argument was raised by a defense lawyer in federal court in Manhattan as the two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they had made illegal campaign contributions to political candidates in the United States in exchange for potential influence.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman have become unexpected figures in the events at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, having played a role in helping Mr. Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of President Trump to dig up information in Ukraine that could damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger.

Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing but has acknowledged that he and the two men worked with officials in Ukraine to collect damaging information about the American ambassador to Ukraine and other targets of Mr. Trump and his allies, including Mr. Biden and his younger son, Hunter.

We knew that one of the lawyers, former Trump attorney John Dowd, has said they were on Trump's legal team which was extremely dubious. But I don't think anyone expected they would claim executive privilege. That really takes some chutzpah.

There's more to this. They are involved with Rudy and the indicted Russian mobster Dmitry Firtash as well.

And it appears that they have been involved for quite some time:

The private Instagram page of a Rudy Giuliani associate accused of a conspiracy to funnel foreign money into elections show that he also had regular access to the President and his inner circle.

The Wall Street Journal sifted through the contents of Lev Parnas’ instagram page, which is not viewable to the general public, on Monday.

Parnas poses with President Donald Trump in multiple pictures on the account. One photo shows a thank you noted signed by the President and first lady Melania Trump.

Then, his account jumps from 2015 to 2018. In Aug '18, Parnas posted a pic of a personalized thank-you note from POTUS & FLOTUS. “Lev Parnas, Thank you for your friendship and dedication to our cause,” it reads. WH didn't respond to request for comment.
— Shelby Holliday (@shelbyholliday) October 21, 2019

Another post shows Parnas and his business partner Igor Fruman at the White House with the President and Vice President Mike Pence. One entry shows the President’s legal team the day after Attorney General Bill Barr published his four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

“Congratulations team trump !!!” the caption reads, per the Journal.

Parnas also posted a slideshow of himself with members of the Trump family, including pics with POTUS, Eric and Don Jr.
— Shelby Holliday (@shelbyholliday) October 21, 2019

After the midterms, Parnas posted more and more photos with Giuliani: at Yankee Stadium, smoking cigars in Warsaw, taking a private tour of a burned Notre Dame in Paris… the list goes on.

See them here:
— Shelby Holliday (@shelbyholliday) October 21, 2019

The last posts on Parnas’s Instagram feed are from July 29, 2019. After a post that said “thank you Vienna !!” he wrote “Good morning Madrid !!” Days after that pic was put up, Giuliani met with Ukrainian official Andrey Yermak in Madrid.
— Shelby Holliday (@shelbyholliday) October 21, 2019

Parnas and Fruman were arrested on campaign finance charges earlier this month, accused of a plot to funnel nearly $1 million of a foreign national’s money to Republican causes. The two were also allegedly involved in hiding the source of a $325,000 donation to the well-known pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.

Several photos show Parnas and Fruman with Giuliani, including at campaign events around the country. There’s also another photo from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) 2018 victory party. One entry even appears to show that Giuliani and Parnas took a private tour of the fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The Instagram account also shows Parnas in Madrid with Giuliani when Giuliani took an August meeting with a close adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Questions about that meeting and others now fuel the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s actions.

Attorney John Dowd wrote in a recent letter to Congress that Parnas and Fruman “assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump.” They’ve also been represented by Giuliani, Dowd wrote.

There was a large gap in Parnas’ instagram page when the Journal was able to access it. The Giuliani associate had photos dated from 2015, but none from 2016 and 2017. The photos began again in mid-2018.

Among the 2015 photos is one of Parnas and his business partner David Correia, the co-founder of the cyber security venture known as “Fraud Guarantee.” Giuliani has said the firm paid him $500,000 for consulting work he began last year. Correia also faces charges in Parnas’ case, to which he’s pleaded not guilty.

Also in the photo: The President’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump. Parnas captioned the photo, “Fraud Gaurantee pow wow.”

This piece in the Washington Post goes into Rudy's tangled Ukrainian web:

The first time Parnas and Fruman were looped into the Ukraine situation, though, was when the House committee in charge of the Trump impeachment inquiry reached out to them for information about their work. Those requests were elevated to subpoenas after their attorney, John Dowd, informed the committee that neither witness would be able to provide the requested information.

In that letter, Dowd — himself once part of Trump’s legal team — established a specific relationship between Parnas, Fruman and Giuliani: Fruman and Parnas assisted Giuliani in his work for Trump while also enjoying his representation in their own business interests. The neat effect? They had attorney-client privilege with Giuliani and, potentially, with Trump. (Dowd recently stopped representing Fruman.)

These mobsters are being protected as part of Trump's legal team.

Think about that for a minute.