Lev Parnas, an indicted Ukrainian-American businessman who has emerged as a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into U.S. Donald Trump, has apparently changed his mind and is ready to cooperate with a congressional investigators, his lawyer told AP and Reuters.
Parnas, who is charged with federal campaign-finance violations that are unrelated to the impeachment inquiry, "will honor" the House of Representatives' requests "to the extent they are legally proper, while scrupulously protecting Mr. Parnas's privileges, including that of the Fifth Amendment," his lawyer, Joseph Bondy, said on November 4, referring to the right to avoid self-incrimination.
Parnas, his indicted business partner Igor Fruman, and Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, are associates who have been involved in back-channel meetings with current and former Ukrainian officials regarding investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Democratic Party activities in the 2016 presidential election.
Giuliani and the House leadership declined comment to Reuters.
Parnas, 47, features in a 317-page transcript that the House released the same day of the testimony that Maria Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, gave to lawmakers that outlined efforts to oust her.
It offered insight into closed-door House hearings that are probing whether Trump has committed impeachable offenses regarding his administration's efforts to get Ukraine’s leaders to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.
During nine hours of testimony on October 11, Yovanovitch stated that Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov had warned her that Parnas and Fruman, along with Giuliani, wanted her removed.
The career foreign service officer said Avakov had told her to "watch her back."
"I guess for -- because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine or additional business dealings," Yovanovitch told congressional investigators. "I didn't understand that, because nobody at the embassy had ever met those two individuals [Parnas and Fruman]. And, you know, one of the biggest jobs of an American ambassador of the U.S. Embassy is to promote U.S. business...if legitimate business comes to us...we promote U.S. business."
Earlier, while counseled by a different lawyer, Parnas had said he wouldn't comply with House requests for records and testimony.
He and Fruman both pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan federal court last month for allegedly taking part in a scheme that funneled money through a shell company to donate funds to a pro-Trump election committee, among other charges they are facing.
Parnas has also helped Giuliani meet with former and current Ukrainian officials regarding his investigation into the Bidens.
The Odesa-born businessman has worked as an interpreter for Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash, who is fighting extradition to the United States from Austria on corruption charges that he denies, CNN reported.
He was hired as a translator around the time when Firtash retained the services of husband-and-wife legal duo Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who are well-known Republicans and frequent defenders of Trump on cable news.
Indicted Giuliani Associate Parnas Will Comply With Impeachment Probe