Two associates of Rudy Giuliani who helped the Trump lawyer investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s activities in Ukraine were arrested late Wednesday on campaign finance-related charges, according to an indictment issued on Thursday.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two Giuliani associates, are expected to appear in federal court Thursday for arraignment, according to The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has been investigating the pair.
The charges involve so-called “straw” payment of $325,000 that Parnas and Fruman made to a political committees in 2018. The committee is not identified in the indictment, but it has been previously reported that the pair gave that amount to a pro-Trump super PAC. The indictment also points to $3 million in contributions from the PAC to a U.S. congressman who appears to be former Republican Rep. Pete Sessions.
According to the indictment, at around the time that Parnas and Fruman began raising funds for Sessions, Parnas met with the congressman to seek his assistance “in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.”
“PARNAS’s efforts to remove the Ambassador were conducted, at least in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials,” the indictment says.
The indictment also describes a $2,700 payment that Parnas made to the congressman. Federal Election Commission records show that Parnas gave that amount to Sessions on June 25, 2018.
In May 2018, Sessions sent a letter to Sec. of State Mike Pompeo calling for the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine. Sessions alleged that Yovanovitch displayed an “anti-Trump bias.” Yovanovitch has since been removed from that position.
Parnas and Fruman also worked closely with Giuliani to collect information about Biden and possible Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Giuliani has for months pushed the allegation that Biden pressured Ukraine’s president in 2016 to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company that had Hunter Biden as a board member.
Parnas and Fruman began in early 2019 arranging interviews for Giuliani and former Ukrainian prosecutors as part of the Biden investigation. They helped set up an interview with Igor Shokin, the prosecutor who claims that he was fired under pressure from Biden. They also arranged an interview for Giuliani with Yuri Letsenko, who succeeded Shokin, according to documents that Giuliani has released.
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