It’s been clear for awhile now that the arrests of Ukraine scandal henchmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were going to be bad news for Rudy Giuliani. Now that the two men have appeared in court today, it’s become clear that their arrests are indeed bad news for Donald Trump as well.
In their first court appearance this morning, Parnas and Fruman tried to block potential evidence against them by claiming that it’s covered under executive privilege. There are obviously a few things wrong here. Underlings can’t be the ones to invoke executive privilege; only the president can invoke it. Also, executive privilege does not extend to cover potentially criminal acts. But there’s one key detail here that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The thing about executive privilege is that it only exists between the president and his underlings. The president can claim that it applies to government employees who work under him in the White House. He can also claim that it applies to his personal attorneys and such. There are grey areas in all of this, and it generally ends up being decided by the courts. But by attempting to invoke executive privilege in court, Parnas and Fruman are asserting that they have, past or present, worked under Trump.
We all know that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman weren’t White House advisers on the government payroll at any point. So this means they’re asserting, as a formal legal defense, that they work directly for Donald Trump. This isn’t going to go well for anyone involved.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report