TWO fixers with ties to President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were arrested Wednesday as they attempted to flee the US.
Soviet-born businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were nabbed at Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C., carrying one-way tickets to Vienna via Frankfurt.
President Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, photographed with businessman Lev Parnas, who was arrested Wednesday[/caption]
The pair reportedly helped Giuliani dig for dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, as well as contributing $325,000 to a pro-Trump group.
Despited having dinner with one of the men at the White House, President Trump on Thursday denied knowing either of them.
On the South Lawn at the White House, the president said: “I don’t know them.
“Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy. I just don’t know.”
Booking photograph of Igor Fruman by Alexandria Sheriff’s Office[/caption]
Booking photograph of Lev Parnas by Alexandria Sheriff’s Office[/caption]
Trump has also appeared in a photograph with Fruman, Parnas, Giuliani and Vice President Mike Pence.
When photographic evidence was mentioned, Trump said: “‘I have pictures with everybody.
“I don’t know if there’s anybody I don’t have pictures with.
“I don’t know them. I don’t know about them. I don’t know what they do.”
The two men remain in jail, having been ordered on Thursday by a federal judge to post $1 million bond, surrender their passports and be subject to home detention, among other conditions, before they can be released.
Parnas and Fruman are charged with four counts, including conspiracy, falsification of records and lying to the Federal Election Commission about their political donations.
The indictment, unsealed Thursday, only mentions an alleged scheme to violate campaign finance law and does not accuse President Trump of any wrongdoing.
It is the latest in a string of developments surrounding Trump and his allies’ ties to Ukraine.
Parnas, born in Ukraine, and Fruman, born in Belarus, had worked with Giuliani to promote investigations in Ukraine, and the two men also had ties to senior Republican officials, reports have claimed.
According to the indictment and other public records, donations to the superPAC, named America First Action, were claimed to have come from a purported liquefied US-based natural gas company, Global Energy Producers LLC.
U.S. campaign finance laws prohibit any foreign donations and look to protect against the concealment campaign funds.
According to the indictment, the men “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.”
America First Action also reportedly spent funds to help former Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas, which potentially connects the two men to a pressure campaign.
Sessions previously wrote a letter calling for the firing of Marie Yovanchovich, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who President Trump had called “bad news.”
Court papers showed that Parnas and Fruman pledged to raise funds for Sessions in 2018.
House Democrats intend to interview Ms. Yovanchovich on Friday as part of the impeachment probe into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
While in jail, Parnas and Fruman were also hit with subpoenas by three House committees that want both men to testify about their ties to Giuliani, having previously not complied with an earlier request for documents.
Reports have claimed Trumps allies believe Ms. Yovonvitch was aiming to impede efforts to dig up dirt about former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who had ties in Ukraine.
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Such connections and the influence of foreign powers for political gain forms the basis for the ongoing impeachment inquiry against Trump, and Parnas had been scheduled to questioned by investigators on Thursday.
Back in May he posted an image on Twitter, thanking President Trump for an “incredible dinner and even better conversation” at the White House.
He added, “!!!! Making America Great!!!!!!!” and tagged “#TRUMP2020.”
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