I don’t know what Rudy Giuliani has been up to in the Ukraine, but it doesn’t sound good:
Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, two foreign-born donors who gave money to a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump, were arrested Wednesday night and face charges tied to campaign-finance violations, two law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News.
The pair are expected to appear in federal court Thursday.
Fruman and Parnas worked with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, Giuliani has previously said, as part of his dealings in Ukraine that involved efforts to encourage the nation to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Parnas is Ukrainian, while Fruman is Belarusian, according to the indictment unsealed Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the arrests.
According to the indictment, filed in the Southern District of New York, the two men, along with fellow defendants David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, “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.”
The indictment describes an elaborate scheme to conceal the real source of the political donations through the use of secret agreements, limited liability corporations and straw donors.
The defendants deceived “the candidates, campaigns, federal regulators, and the public by entering into secret agreements, laundering foreign money through bank accounts in the name of limited liability corporations, and through the use of straw donors … who purported to make legal campaign contributions in their own names, rather than in the name of the true source of the fund,” according to the document.
Parnas and Fruman are alleged to have started making illegal campaign contributions in March 2018. The purpose of these donations, the indictment claims, was to enhance their political influence and gain access to politicians so they could advance the “personal financial interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working.”
The Trump campaign declined to comment to NBC News while John Dowd, an attorney for the two men, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News. Reached by NBC News, Giuliani said he could not yet comment.
Fruman and Parnas are charged with making $325,000 in illegal straw donations to a Trump super PAC, according to the indictment, as well as giving $15,000 to a second committee.
In May 2018, the two men gave $325,000 to the pro-Trump super PAC American First Action through an LLC, Global Energy Producers, the group confirmed to NBC News.
The indictment also details a push by Parnas and Fruman to oust then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump recalled from her post earlier this year. The indictment alleges that Parnas met with a congressman identified in the charging document as “Congressman-1” in mid-2018 to get assistance in the effort.
According the document, the efforts to oust Yovanovitch were at least partially on behalf of an unnamed Ukrainian official.
Multiple senior U.S. law enforcement officials told NBC News that “Congressman-1” is former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. Sessions lost his reelection bid last year.
Meanwhile, the indictment alleged that the men conspired to make political donations funded by a unidentified foreign national who was nervous about “his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it” to politicians and candidates. The purpose of those donations was to help gain access to recreational marijuana licenses so that they could form a marijuana business in the U.S., according to the document, but that venture did not ultimately come to fruition.
They were arrested at Dulles Airport as they were attempting to leave the country.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman had lunch with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump hotel in Washington YESTERDAY, a source who saw them tells @nataliewsj
US Attorney just now said Parnas and Fruman had one way international tickets.— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) October 10, 2019
Lots of open questions.
Was this done with the knowledge of the Trump campaign? The indictment does not claim it was.
Was this done with the knowledge of Rudy Giuliani? That would be bad for Rudy, obviously.
Were these guys the source or in any way related to the dirt that Rudy is trying to peddle about Biden? CNN says yes:
A CNN analysis of multiple documents, supported by interviews in Ukraine, shows that it was Shokin and Lutsenko who supplied Giuliani’s team with a complex narrative. That narrative — a laundry list of unsupported allegations — asserted corruption by the Bidens, as well as collusion between officials in Ukraine and the Democrats in the US to publicize damaging information about Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in 2016.
What the indictment is less clear about is who the Russian bankrolling all this is. A key part of Parnas and Fruman’s crime is that they were laundering funds for “a foreign national Russian citizen and businessman.”
From in or about June 2018 through April 2019, LEV PARNAS, IGOR FRUMAN, DAVID CORREIA, and ANDREY KUKUSHKIN, the defendants, and others known and unknown, conspired to make political donations — funded by Foreign National-1 [the Russian] — to politicians and candidates for federal and State office to gain influence with candidates as to policies that would benefit a future business venture.
In a letter to House Democrats last week, attorney John Dowd—last seen representing Trump in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation—wrote, “Please be advised that Messrs. Parnas and Fruman assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump.” This was apparently intended to shield Parnas and Fruman: Dowd argued some of what Democrats sought from them was protected by attorney-client privilege. But with the arrests today, that argument adds to Trump’s problems. Attorney-client privilege does not cover the commission of crimes, and now the connection to the president has been established.
Putting together the Dowd letter and the indictment, it becomes clear that the propaganda that John Solomon from The Hill — the crap Trump was pushing (and which Rudy sent to Mike Pompeo’s State Department as part of the effort to get rid of Yovanovitch and which Lindsey Graham just invited Rudy to come present to the Senate Judiciary Committee) — was funded by an as yet unnamed Russian.
And now the question of the day…
Where is Rudy Giuliani— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) October 10, 2019
Rudolph W. Giuliani right about now. pic.twitter.com/oQFFSwJNIw— Derecho Petrichor (@zoomboom100) October 10, 2019
UPDATE — it gets worse:
REVEALED: Rudy Giuliani’s indicted Ukraine henchman gave thousands to Kevin McCarthy https://t.co/0lwqCvEBPq— Raw Story (@RawStory) October 10, 2019
Parnas and Fruman’s schemes are a little hard to follow. Prosecutors charged them, as well as two other men, with conspiracy, false statements to the FEC, and falsifying records. An indictment charges that the men engaged in a straw-donor scheme to illegally donate money to a congressman—former Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican—at the behest of a Ukrainian official, to get help in trying to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine fired. (Sessions wrote a letter calling for the diplomat’s firing, and she was eventually removed.) In another scheme, they funneled money from a Russian foreign national, again in violation of the law, into donations, using a legal recreational-marijuana enterprise as a front.
The U.S. attorney said the $325,000 donation Parnas and Fruman made to committee-1 was “one of the largest” donations it had received. CNN has identified that committee as America First Action. It’s chaired by Linda McMahon, the former head of the Small Business Administration.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 10, 2019
And now the two henchmen have been subpoenaed by the House Committee.
Wow. Another fast news day.
Impeachment news:— Thor Benson (@thor_benson) October 10, 2019
Monday: The other shoe just dropped.
Tuesday: Okay, one more shoe.
Wednesday: How many fucking shoes…
Thursday: Dear God…
Friday: I’m drowning in shoes.
Ohhhh…. here’s Rudy:
BREAKING NEWS: This email exchange between Ali Chalupa (Consultant for the DNC) and Luis Miranda (Comms Director for the DNC) dated 5/3/16, is one of many instances proving collusion between Ukrainian officials and DNC/Clinton campaign. pic.twitter.com/7eoRXk6DDv— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) October 10, 2019
So, now… Democrats talking to Ukraine journalists is somehow “collusion” with the “Ukrainian officials”?
Seriously nutty. But let’s look at through a clear lens… The President’s attorney just presented as BREAKING news claiming corruption:
1) An email stolen by Russia…
2) Showing a DNC consultant was working w/non-govt sources to provide info to non-govt sources…
3) Doing so seems to have led to her getting hacked.
This email has been available publicly on Wikileaks for three years. Not breaking news.
What we're now supposed to believe:— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) October 10, 2019
1 – The DNC hacks itself just in case Trump wins the election
2 – The DNC leaves emails about how it was about to hack itself in the hack docs
3 – The DNC releases the hack through Wikileaks
4 – The DNC frames Russia
5 – (???)
6 – Impeachment
Here’s another question — where is Bill Barr in all this? After all, it is HIS Department of Justice that arrested these guys. The indictment was filed in the Southern District. Has SDNY gone rogue?
NBC’s Pete Williams, via NBC’s Tom Winter, reveals that Barr was made aware of the investigation into the two men ever since this past February when he was sworn in as attorney general. Barr’s knowledge of the case is notable because President Donald Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to get in contact with his attorney general during his now-infamous July 25th phone call.