A pair of Florida businessmen who worked with Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to promote politically charged investigations in Ukraine were arrested on federal campaign finance charges, it was revealed Thursday.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were each born in former Soviet Republics, assisted Giuliani's effort to get Ukraine to investigate his theory about the 2016 elections, and also help Giuliani's effort to dig up dirt on a company tied to the Bidens in Ukraine.
The two men cultivated ties with a series of top Republican officials. They had dinner with President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in 2018, and Parnas bragged about dining with the president at the White House that year.
Giuliani has said both are clients of his. In an indictment unsealed Thursday in the Souther District of New York, the men are accused of funneling hundreds of thousands from a mystery Russian businessman into a pro-Trump super PAC in violation of U.S. campaign laws banning foreign donations and efforts to conceal campaign funds.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested and charged with campaign finance crimes in an indictment unsealed Thursday
In addition to helping Trump, the same super PAC spent millions to boost former Texas GOP Rep Pete Sessions, who wrote a letter calling for the firing of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, who Trump trashed on his infamous July call with the Ukrainian president and who House Democrats want to interview Friday as part of their impeachment probe.
The House Intelligence committee wants both men to testify about their work with Giuliani in Ukraine as part of its impeachment probe into Trump's interactions with Ukraine. Their lawyer has said they won't provide the information. Amid the standoff, three House committee's issued subpoenas for interviews and information.
The men were arrested late Wednesday at Dulles airport in Virginia as they were about to fly abroad with one-way tickets, according to prosecutors.
Mike Pence, Igor fruman, Lev Parnas, President Trump, and Rudy Giuliani are pictured in an image captured by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
U.S. President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, U.S. September 20, 2019. Giuliani said both Parnas and Fruman were his clients. They assisted his Ukraine investigation
The pair donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, through an LLC, the Wall Street Journal reported, and they are expected to appear in court in Virginia Thursday.
Although the indictment mentions only an alleged scheme to violate campaign finance laws, the two men are also connected to a the sprawling Ukraine matter that has President Trump now facing a ramped-up House Democratic impeachment effort.
The Associated Press reported that the two men sought to use their connections to Giuliani to get the Ukrainian state gas company, Naftogaz, to replace members of their board of directors.
The indictment doesn't mention Giuliani, whose association with Parnas and Fruman was part of his effort to amass potential dirt on Trump political rival Joe Biden.
Chief rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Reuven Azman with the Governor Mike Hackabee and 'American friends of Anatevka' Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were pictured in Jerusalem
An unidentified man, President Trump, and Igor Fruman on July 4, 2018
The pair dined with Donald Trump Jr. in May 2018, along with Tommy Hicks Jr., according to a Facebook post that captured the event. Hicks was leading the pro-Trump super PAC at the time and now has a position as co-chair of the Republican National Committee.
They also had dinner with President Trump, and images Parnas posted on Twitter in May thanks the president for an 'incredible dinner and even better conversation' at the White House.
He also wrote: '!!!! Making America Great!!!!!!!' and tagged '#Trump2020.'
An image posted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project shows them pictured with Vice President Mike Pence, Trump, and Giuliani.
They also donated to Florida Sen. Rick Scott and hosted fundraisers for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis headlined by Donald Trump Jr., the Miami Herald reported.
The men are being represented John Dowd, who served as Donald Trump's lawyer during part of the Mueller probe.
This Facebook screen shot provided by The Campaign Legal Center, shows from left, Donald Trump, Jr., Tommy Hicks, Jr., Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, posted on May 21, 2018
Their company, Global Energy Producers LLC, has been accused of violating campaign finance laws for its six-figure donations to the super PAC.
U.S. election law prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions to U.S. political campaigns, as well as efforts to shield the origins of campaign donations.
Those laws are in part to protect U.S. elections from 'illegal foreign financial influence,' according to the indictment unsealed Thursday.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
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,' according to the indictment.
Prosecutors announced that the FBI arrested Parnas