Giuliani associate Lev Parnas asks AG Barr to recuse himself from case

Image: William Barr
From right, Attorney General, William Barr, and FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich, from left, hold a press conference, regarding the December 2019 shooting at the Pensacola Naval air station in Florida, at the Department of Justice on Jan. 13, 2020. Copyright Andrew Caballero-Reynolds AFP - Getty Images
By Tom Winter and Rich Schapiro with NBC News Politics
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The letter was sent days after Parnas spoke out publicly for the first time about his role assisting Giuliani in pushing Ukrainian officials to launch a probe of Joe Biden.


Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, has sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr requesting that he recuse himself from the investigation and appoint a special prosecutor, according to a new court filing.

A copy of the letter, dated Monday, was filed on Parnas' docket in his federal campaign finance violation case brought by New York prosecutors.

"Given the totality of the circumstances, we believe it is appropriate for you to recuse yourself from the ongoing investigation and pending prosecution of Mr. Parnas," reads the three-paged letter, which was signed by his defense lawyer Joseph Bondy.

The letter was faxed to Barr days after Parnas spoke out publicly for the first time about his role assisting Giuliani in pushing Ukrainian officials to launch an investigation of Joe Biden.

In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that aired last Wednesday, Parnas alleged that Barr was aware of the effort, now at the center of Trump's impeachment.

"Mr. Barr had to have known everything," Parnas said.

"Attorney General Barr was basically on the team," he added.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment or confirm that they received the letter. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on Bondy's letter.

Parnas was charged last October with funneling foreign money to U.S. political candidates and campaigns. He's pleaded not guilty.

Parnas and a second man, Igor Fruman, were carrying one-way tickets to Vienna when they were arrested at Dulles Airport outside of Washington on Oct. 9.

The indictment unsealed the next day accused the pair of making illegal straw donations, including $325,000 to a pro-President Donald Trump political action committee. Federal prosecutors say the two also engaged in a scheme to force the ouster of the then-U.S. ambassador in Ukraine.

NBC News has previously reported that Barr was briefed by federal prosecutors in New York on the then-undisclosed case into Parnas when he took office earlier last year.

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