A lawyer for Lev Parnas, who was indicted on campaign finance charges and is an associate of the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, called on Attorney General William Barr to recuse himself from overseeing the case, arguing that it would create a "public appearance of a conflict of interest."
"Due to the conflict of interest of your being involved in these matters as Attorney General, and in an effort to preserve the public trust in the rule of law, we request that you recuse yourself," Joseph Bondy, Parnas' attorney, wrote in a letter filed to the court on Monday.
Bondy suggested the Department of Justice appoint a special prosecutor from outside the department to handle the case.
In his request, Bondy outlined several examples of why the attorney general should step back, including his involvement in President Donald Trump's Ukraine policy -- as Barr was named during the president's July 25 call with Ukraine that sparked the impeachment trial on Capitol Hill.
The New York City Bar Association also advised Barr to disqualify himself from the case.
Bondy said "evidence has been brought to light" linking Barr to not only Giuliani, but other prominent GOP lawyers, including Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, which he said creates a "public appearance of a conflict of interest.”
He argued that "actual harm" was done to his client, because of perceived "delays in the production of discovery in his federal case." In other words, Bondy said Parnas was unable to turn over documents in a timely manner in order to comply with the congressional subpoenas sent during the impeachment inquiry.
The letter did not give any details as to how the discovery was delayed.
"This conflict of interest appears to have caused actual harm to Mr. Parnas," Bondy said, adding that his client couldn't dig up enough evidence "in time for congressional investigators to make complete use of his material or properly assess Mr. Parnas as a potential witness."
Parnas' attorney also said prosecutors "refused" to meet with Parnas so he could give them the information he had on Trump, Giuliani, Toensing, diGenova and "others."
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The prosecution in a court paper on Tuesday afternoon dismissed the idea that the government "purposefully delayed" discovery to the defendant, writing, "(s)uch a suggestion is baseless and completely belied by the facts."
Prosecutors said in the paper that the delay in the government's production of the contents of Parnas' devices was caused by Parnas' refusal to give the government the password to his devices -- which they note is his right but said it significantly delayed the production. The prosecutors also wrote that the production was further delayed by Parnas' attorney's delay in providing them with a hard drive to deliver the produced materials and the counsel's technical difficulties in accessing the materials in his computer.
They further noted that they have yet to access many of Parnas' other password-protected devices and that the FBI's efforts to unlock them are ongoing.
"The Government has and will continue to work with defense counsel to facilitate each defendant's access to discovery and to make discovery available as expeditiously as possible," the prosecutors wrote.
The government expects to conclude discovery by March.