Lev Parnas blocked from Senate impeachment hearing Wednesday

NEW YORK (AP) — An associate of Rudy Giuliani who is awaiting trial on charges that he made illegal campaign contributions has a ticket to Wednesday’s U.S. Senate impeachment trial, but he won’t be going.

Instead, Lev Parnas will go to Washington with his lawyers to show support for a fair trial, his lawyer, Joseph Bondy, said in a tweet.

Bondy wrote to a New York judge Tuesday to ask if his bail conditions might be relaxed enough to let him attend the proceeding from 12:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken permitted Parnas to go to Washington, but he said the defendant can’t remove his electronic-tracking device. And he can’t enter the Senate gallery with it on.

In a tweet, Bondy said: “Although we couldn’t arrange to have Lev Parnas watch the trial with us because his GPS ankle monitor is not allowed, Lev will join us in DC tomorrow to show support for a fair trial, with witnesses & evidence.”

Parnas and associate Igor Fruman had worked with Giuliani to try to convince Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Parnas, his lawyer and another lawyer got the coveted tickets to the trial from the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, Bondy told the judge.

In a statement, the office of the New York Democrat said: “Like many other New York constituents, Mr. Bondy reached out and asked for gallery tickets, and we said yes.”

Correspondence between a Schumer aide and Bondy filed with the court showed that the Senate refused to make an exception for Parnas regarding rules excluding electronic devices from the Senate gallery during the trial.

Rules for the Senate’s public galleries exclude cameras and electronics including “but not limited to” cell phones and cell phone accessories, remote car keys, smart watches, extra batteries and Bluetooth connected devices.

Parnas recently provided congressional investigators with a recording of an April 2018 dinner meeting in which President Donald Trump demands the removal of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from Ukraine.

Parnas attended the small dinner at his Washington hotel. The recording seems to contradict the president’s statements that he did not know Parnas.

Parnas and Fruman have both pleaded not guilty to charges in Manhattan federal court alleging that they made illegal campaign contributions to further their business interests and political goals, including the campaign to get the U.S. to replace Yovanovitch.

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Associated Press Writer Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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