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What's Parnas's Angle Here?


Parnas is charged with a series of crimes in the Southern District of New York. Sharing information with Congress isn’t likely to get him off the hook with prosecutors there. Indeed, if anything the opposite seems likely. His forthcomingness just isn’t relevant to that prosecution.

Congress can extend immunity for testimony. And that can complicate criminal prosecution but it does not automatically end them. And Parnas hasn’t testified to anything. Nor does it appear that he negotiated anything with Congress for these documents, or whatever yet to be publicized testimony if he’s spoken to congressional investigators.

He’s just given this stuff to Congress and not gotten anything in return. And Congress couldn’t really do that much for him even if it was trying to. Congress doesn’t have what amounts to a congressional pardon where it can just reach out and get someone off the hook for criminal offenses. It doesn’t work that way.

Parnas clearly isn’t getting a pardon. He clearly isn’t getting any help from the senior leadership at the DOJ. The House can’t do much for him and hasn’t done anything. So what’s up? One part of the equation is apparently that he was seriously pissed when Trump publicly disowned him. So some of this seems to be pay back. But I don’t really buy that someone like Parnas is motivated mainly by principle or emotion. Emotion fades; jail lasts.

My best hunch is that is that he’s just blowing up everything he can in the hopes that it will create some benefit down the road, even if it’s not totally clear what that might be. There could be a new DOJ in a year. But that seems pretty hypothetical at this point, at least inasmuch as a change in management could materially help him stay out of jail. At a future sentencing his lawyers might be able to offer his cooperation with Congress and impeachment as a mitigating factor in his sentencing recommendation.

At the end of the day, it’s not totally clear why he’s doing all this.

About The Author


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.