Donald Trump said he isn't familiar with two businessmen who were arrested last week in connection to the Ukraine scandal, but it was revealed Monday that he met one of them before he began campaigning for president in 2015.
While attempting to distance himself from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who were indicted last week, the president said, 'I don't know them.'
However, it was unearthed on social media that the president appeared in a photo with Parnas, a Ukrainian-born businessman, in a Facebook picture post from March 2014.
A photograph was also widely shared last week where Trump is seen alongside Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence, Parnas and Fruman.
Trump dismissed that photo, claiming he takes pictures with a lot of people.
'I have pictures with everybody. I don't know if there's anybody I don't have pictures with,' he said. 'I don't know them. I don't know about them. I don't know what they do.'
A new photo emerged Monday from 2014 that shows Donald Trump pictured with Rudy Giuliani's clinet, Ukrainian-born businessman Lev Parnas – who the president insisted he does not know. A report also says Parnas was at Trump's invite-only election night party in New York
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
When a reporter reminded Trump that the two men pictured were clients of Giuliani, he again distanced himself from the individuals who donated $325,000 to a Super PAC supporting him.
'Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You'd have to ask Rudy. I just don't know,' he told journalists assembled on the South Lawn last Thursday.
Parnas also attended Trump's invite-only New York election night event in 2016, Politico reported – another link between the foreign-born businessman and the president.
A French newspaper reported, at the time, that Parnas told a foreign correspondent at the party in Manhattan that he is a friend of the then-president-elect. He said his home in South Florida wasn't far from Trump's winter home.
He also told the paper in the recently drug up article from 2016 that a friend from his hometown of Boca Raton, Florida had hosted several fundraising events for Trump, but it is not clear what friend Parnas was referencing.
Parnas and Fruman worked with Giuliani to promote politically-charged investigations in Ukraine and were arrested Wednesday on federal campaign finance charges as they tried to flee the country.
Born in former Soviet republics, they assisted Giuliani with his effort to get Ukraine to investigate his theory about the 2016 elections. They also helped with Giuliani's effort to dig up dirt on a company tied to the Bidens in Ukraine.
Flight risk: U.S. Judge Michael Nachmanoff ordered Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to post $1 million each in bail, surrender their passports and be subject to home detention, among other conditions, before they can be released from jail
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested and charged with campaign finance crimes in an indictment unsealed Thursday
They were arrested at Dulles Airport on a plane to Vienna, Austria, a few hours after they were seen lunching with Giuliani at the Trump Hotel in Washington D.C.
At a federal court hearing in Alexandria, VA, Thursday afternoon federal prosecutors said the pair were a flight risk.
U.S. Judge Michael Nachmanoff ordered Parnas and Fruman to post $1 million each in bail, surrender their passports and be subject to home detention, among other conditions, before they can be released from jail.
Parnas bragged about dining with the president at the White House that year.
Giuliani said both are clients of his, and while they were sitting in Alexandria Sheriff's Office cells, the Soviet-born duo were also hit with subpoenas by the House Intelligence Committee.
Dining at the White House: Lev Parnas bragged that he was a guest of Donald Trump in spring 2018
The former Republican New York City mayor is facing his own legal issues, as prosecutors are now probing potential lobbying violations.
In an indictment unsealed Thursday in the Southern District of New York, the two men are accused of funneling $325,000 from a mystery Russian businessman into America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC in violation of U.S. campaign laws banning foreign donations and efforts to conceal campaign funds.
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 John Dowd - Trump's former attorney - has said they won't provide the information. Amid the standoff, three House committees issued subpoenas for interviews and information.
Dowd hung up on an Associated Press reporter seeking comment. He had previously replied to the Democrat-controlled committee rejecting the subpoenas and writing in comic sans font. He had also accused the Democrats of harassing his clients.
The men were arrested late Wednesday at Dulles airport in Virginia as they were about to fly abroad with one-way tickets to Vienna, according to prosecutors.
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
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
The pair donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, through an LLC, prosecutors say.
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.
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.
Chief rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Reuven Azman with former Arkansas governor Mike Hackabee - father of Sarah Huckabee Sanders - and 'American friends of Anatevka' Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were pictured in Jerusalem
David Correia, President Trump, and Igor Fruman on July 4, 2018
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.
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.
Said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman at a press conference in New York: 'Protecting the integrity of our elections and protecting our elections from unlawful fore influence are core functions of our Campaign finance laws. And as this office has made clear, we will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process.'sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in -