House Democrats Subpoena Giuliani Associates in Impeachment Inquiry

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
October 10, 2019 Updated: October 10, 2019

House Democrats issued a subpoena to two Florida businessmen linked to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for documents, hours after reports that the pair were arrested at a Virginia airport on Wednesday.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested by federal authorities at Dulles airport in Virginia before a planned flight to Vienna on Wednesday night, sources familiar with the matter told Fox News. The pair were charged with conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. Two other people were charged in the indictment, according to court documents.

The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued subpoenas to Parnas and Fruman on Thursday to produce documents by Oct. 16. The subpoenas were issued after consultation with two other committees—Committee on Oversight and Reform and Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The chairmen of the three committees argued in a letter (pdf) accompanying the subpoenas, addressed to the men’s lawyer John Dowd, that Parnas and Fruman must comply with the committee’s demands even though the White House had rejected to participate in the House’s probe.

“Your clients are private citizens who are not employees of the Executive Branch. They may not evade requests from Congress for documents and information necessary to conduct our inquiry. They are required by law to comply with the enclosed subpoenas,” the chairmen wrote.

“They are not exempted from this requirement merely because they happen to work with Mr. Giuliani, and they may not defy congressional subpoenas merely because President Trump has chosen the path of denial, defiance, and obstruction,” they added.

The chairmen said Parnas and Fruman are also expected to appear before the panels to testify at a later date. They warned that refusal to comply with the demands shall constitute an obstruction to the House’s inquiry.

In an earlier letter, the committee demanded Parnas and Fruman to hand over documents related to alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine officials to investigate Burisma, and matter related to former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton, as well as communications relating to the Trump administration officials, and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (pdf).

Dowd told the intelligence committee that Parnas and Fruman would take the White House’s stance in relation to compliance with House subpoenas in a letter on Wednesday. The White House sent Pelosi and the committee chairmen a letter on Tuesday saying it would not participate in the inquiry because it violated “fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.”

In earlier letters, Dowd told the committee that his clients would not appear for depositions that were scheduled for Thursday (pdf) and had asked for more time in a letter dated Oct. 3 (pdf) to respond to the committee’s requests.

Parnas and Fruman reportedly helped Giuliani in his efforts to investigate the origin of the Russia investigation. They are the subjects of an extensive report cited four times in the whistleblower complaint that triggered the Democrat-run presidential impeachment inquiry. The report, produced by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a group funded by billionaire financier George Soros, details meetings and communications between Parnas, Fruman, and Ukrainian nationals.

The OCCRP published the report on July 22, four days after President Donald Trump ordered a hold be placed on military aid to Ukraine.

Giuliani, who is the personal attorney for President Donald Trump, had identified Parnas and Fruman as his clients on May 18—something Dowd made clear in his Oct. 3 letter.

Parnas and Fruman were also each charged with one count of false statements and one of falsification of business records. A separate charge alleges the four defendants colluded with a Ukrainian national as part of a business venture to create a recreational marijuana company.

None of the charges are related to the Ukrainian work by Parnas and Fruman allegedly on behalf of Giuliani. One of the allegations appears to refer to their efforts to lobby for the removal of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. The whistleblower’s complaint refers to Yovanovitch’s removal but makes no mention of Fruman, Parnas, or Giuliani in connection to the firing.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.