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Giuliani’s Ukraine Cronies Refuse to Cooperate With Impeachment Investigation

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani‘s contempt for the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry has spread to his circle of associates. Two of Giuliani’s colleagues who helped him pursue his Ukrainian conspiracy theories, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, officially stated Monday that they would not comply with a Monday deadline for them to turn over their documents to House investigators, nor will they appear at depositions scheduled for Thursday and Friday. In a letter sent to House investigators—and written in Comic Sans font—former Trump attorney John Dowd, who now represents Parnas and Fruman, said his clients could not provide the necessary documents in such a limited amount of time, calling the House request “overly broad and unduly burdensome.” “The subject matter of your requests is well beyond your scope of inquiry,” Dowd wrote, adding that he’s reached the “inescapable conclusion that the Democratic Committee members’ intent is to harass, intimidate and embarrass my clients.”

Parnas and Fruman, both Soviet-born Ukrainians turned South Florida businessmen, reportedly acted as “couriers” for Giuliani during his quest for dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine, and introduced him to former Ukrainian prosecutors Viktor Shokin and Yuri Lutsenko, who promoted the baseless Biden allegations. Dowd’s letter notes that his clients also assisted Giuliani “in connection with his representation of President Trump,” whom the two men supported through donations of a combined $325,000 to a Trump-allied political action committee in 2018. Parnas and Fruman became further embroiled in scandal over the weekend, as the Associated Press reported that the two businessmen, along with Boca Raton oil magnate Harry Sargeant III, reportedly attempted to leverage their Trump ties as part of a scheme to replace the CEO of Ukraine’s state-run natural gas company, Naftogaz, and then “steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies.” (Dowd characterized their efforts to the AP as “an attempt to do legitimate business that didn’t work out,” and Giuliani denies playing any role in the business deal.) As part of their efforts, the two men reportedly pressed for the dismissal of former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and told business associates of Yovanovitch’s impending ouster—which was reportedly orchestrated by Trump and Giuliani—before it took place.

Giuliani, the man at the heart of the Ukraine scandal now spurring Trump’s impeachment, has signaled that he could follow suit by refusing to comply with his own House-issued subpoena. “I haven’t made up my mind,” the lawyer told the Daily Beast Monday about whether or not he’d comply with the subpoena, citing his belief that the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman Rep. Adam Schiff has become a target for Trump allies during the impeachment showdown, is “illicit.” “I have a real question about whether I should recognize their legitimacy,” he said. Giuliani previously told ABC News that he would “of course” testify if Trump wanted him to, “even though I think Adam Schiff is an illegitimate chairman,” but remained otherwise undecided. (The president’s lawyer, of course, is also “at risk of criminal exposure” himself for his outsized role in the Ukraine scandal, as former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade told Vanity Fair, which raises the stakes for whatever information he does—or doesn’t give—the House.)

This resistance effort by Giuliani and his cronies is in line with the Trump administration’s broader response to the House impeachment probe, which has so far echoed their months-long stonewalling effort against other Democrat-led House investigations. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to comply with a deadline to turn over State documents and claimed House investigators had “harassed and abused State Department employees,” and the White House is reportedly planning to issue a letter saying they will not comply with requests until the House holds a formal vote to begin impeachment proceedings. Though there have been some recent boons for House investigators, like former envoy Kurt Volker‘s explosive text messages and upcoming depositions by Yovanovitch and ambassador Gordon Sondland, Schiff told the Washington Post Sunday they’re expecting the White House’s stonewalling “siege” to continue.

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