One of the two recently charged associates of Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday linked his campaign finance case to President Donald Trump directly, claiming that part of the evidence collected in the probe could potentially be considered protected by executive privilege.

Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas’ claim came as he and Igor Fruman, another associate of Giuliani, pleaded not guilty to federal charges of campaign finance violations. The pair of businessmen were indicted earlier this month for making illegal donations to conservative American political candidates through straw donors in exchange for possible influence. The FBI and New York state prosecutors subpoenaed financial documents for more than 50 bank accounts before charging the two Soviet-born businessmen.


Parnas’s attorney Edward MacMahon Jr. told a federal judge in Manhattan, New York that the White House could possibly claim executive privilege by extension because Parnas had hired Giuliani as his lawyer while the former New York City mayor was in turn serving as a member of Trump’s defense team.

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“I can’t invoke [executive privilege], only the President of the United States and the government can,” MacMahon told Judge Paul Oetken. “I just wanted to raise the issue with you,” he added before saying everyone should be “sensitive” to the subject of executive privilege.

“I don’t know any more about how to invoke executive privilege than anyone else,” MacMahon later told reporters.

Giuliani has denied all wrongdoing in the case, and has refused to cooperate with subpoenas for documents from House Democrats as part of their impeachment inquiry. Parnas and Fruman were also subpoenaed by lawmakers.

Giuliani has admitted, however, that he and his associates coordinated with Ukrainian officials to get dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and others.

Parnas and Fruman are expected to return to court on Dec. 2.


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