Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born business associate of Rudy Giuliani, has told a court that he may raise executive privilege in the criminal case against him. His counsel, Ed MacMahon, said that his client was told to invoke executive privilege in a letter that was submitted on Parnas’ behalf by John Dowd to a congressional committee conducting the impeachment inquiry. Dowd previously represented the President. Parnas is shown here (left) with his associate Igor Fruman (who also worked with Giuliani and was arrested with Parnas at the airport).
It is hard to see a credible claim of executive privilege that could be raised in Parnas’ defense. There may be evidence sought from the government that could be withheld, but again a court would be highly skeptical. Parnas is a private citizen who worked with another private citizen, Rudy Giuliani. It is difficult to image a plausible executive privilege claim, let alone a claim that would overcome the countervailing needs of prosecuting a criminal case.
Moreover, the evidence referenced by the government was already obtained through standard search warrants, subpoenas, and property searches. The prosecutors said that they were not informed of such a potential claim and that they had already used a conventional “filter team” for any privileged material.
Not surprisingly, Judge Paul Oetken asked if Parnas has worked for the president. MacMahon said that he did not but “he worked for Mr. Giuliani.” MacMahon, who I know well and respect, is a seasoned criminal defense attorney. (I actually took over the Al-Timimi terrorism case from him after the trial. MacMahon acknowledged “I can’t invoke [executive privilege], only the President of the United States and the government can.”