Florida businessmen who helped Giuliani in Ukraine arrested on campaign finance charges

Two Giuliani associates linked to Ukraine investigations indicted on campaign finance charges

Trump donors charged in campaign finance case

Mediaite founder and ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams said that on the heels of the arrests of two Ukraine-connected associates, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani "has got to be nervous". The campaign finance violations were related to hush payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.

Kukushkin made an initial court appearance in San Francisco on Thursday.

Foreign nationals are barred from contributing to U.S. election campaigns and Mr Parnas and Mr Fruman are alleged to have funneled funds into Trump's 2020 reelection campaign and other campaigns from a person identified in the indictment as "Foreign National-1", a Russian citizen and businessman who was seeking to obtain retail marijuana licenses in the United States.

The circumstances of how Parnas and Fruman were apprehended have also lent some credibility to suspicions that Giuliani was next on the SDNY's food chain.

Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, had "committed to raise $20,000 or more for a then-sitting U.S. Congressman", the indictment says. That's the same month they gave the $325,000 to the pro-Trump Super PAC.

The pair were also photographed having breakfast at a Los Angeles restaurant with the president's son Donald Trump Jr in May this year.

LUCAS: So their names are Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

Their financing efforts were meant to allegedly "advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working". The Ukrainian official is not identified.

LUCAS: In conversations that I've had with their lawyer, John Dowd, it has become clear that they have little intention of appearing for their depositions on the Hill. Federal prosecutors accuse the men of violating campaign finance laws by obscuring the actual source of this and other contributions. Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian oil and gas company for five years before he left its board early this year. NPR reports the two foreign-born Florida businessmen helped Giuliani dig up dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son in Ukraine - a scandal at the core of House Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry.

The request is expected to be met with opposition from the White House and State Department, and could present a quandary for Taylor, according to former State Department officials who know him.

The revelation of the 2017 episode comes as Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry into allegations that he used his office to seek ammunition against a political rival.

Both Parnas and Fruman have been called to testify in the House impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump but declined to appear. William Sweeney, FBI assistant director in charge of the New York Field office, said at a Thursday news conference that Kukushkin was taken into custody in San Francisco, while Correia had yet to be arrested. It's unclear whether the indictment will complicate those efforts, as Congress had challenges obtaining testimony from officials who had been charged by former special counsel Robert Mueller before the cases were completed.

FILE - U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, attends a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 6, 2019.

Yovanovitch's reputation in the diplomatic corps and with foreign officials with whom she's dealt in her three-decade career does not square with Trump's characterization of her as "bad news". Mr. Trump's request to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he investigate the Bidens has led to the House impeachment inquiry against him. "Protecting the integrity of our elections and protecting our elections from unlawful foreign influence are core functions of our campaign finance laws", he said.

He was a vice president of a Russian hedge fund, Renaissance Investment Management, before getting into the business of growing and selling marijuana in the United States, according to news reports, legal records and corporate records.

"The alleged activity was done without the knowledge of the candidates or campaign", he told Politico.

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