Two foreign-born Trump supporters who were clients of Rudy Giuliani and helped connect Giuliani with Ukrainian officials as he sought an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden were arrested late Wednesday and charged with campaign-finance violations.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the Florida businessmen charged by federal prosecutors, are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia on Thursday. According to Federal Election Commission records, the two gave $325,000 in May 2018 to America First Action, the main pro-Trump super PAC, through an LLC called Global Energy Producers. In July 2018, the Campaign Legal Center, a transparency-advocacy group, filed a complaint with the FEC over the donation, alleging that Parnas and Fruman had broken campaign-finance laws by disguising the source of the money through Global Energy Producers.
The indictment states that the two men made contributions “for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials.” It also references a congressman — identifiable as former Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions — who Parnas and Fruman pledged to raise $20,000 dollars for, to seek help “in causing the U.S. Government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.”
Pictures recovered from deleted Facebook posts show the two men have met President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. A picture from Sept. 20 shows Giuliani with Parnas in the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C.
House committees last month sought to depose Parnas and Fruman and obtain documents related to their interactions with the Trump administration, Giuliani, and Ukrainian officials.
John Dowd, a lawyer who represents the two men and worked for the president in the past, sent a letter to the House Intelligence Committee last week criticizing the requests as “overly broad and unduly burdensome,” and noted that the two men had helped Giuliani “in connection with his representation of President Trump.” The Wall Street Journal reports that Fruman and Parnas connected Giuliani to current and former Ukrainian prosecutors starting in late 2018.
Update: 3:00 p.m.
According to an eyewitness, Fruman and Parness met with Giuliani for lunch at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on Wednesday. The two men were later arrested at Dulles International Airport. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Thursday that Fruman and Parness had both purchased one-way international tickets.