Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two wealthy Soviet-born Floridians who allegedly passed information between the government in Kiev and President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have been arrested for campaign finance violations.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested on Wednesday, reportedly while attempting to leave the US from Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC.
Along with two other men, they were charged with funnelling illegal foreign contributions to Republican PACs in the runup to the 2018 midterm elections. The men are also accused of making false statements to the Federal Elections Commission to disguise the source of these contributions.
The charges are unrelated to the current impeachment drive against Trump. The two are due to appear in court in Virginia on Thursday.
The two Floridians were already in the news earlier this week, when they were asked to testify before three Democrat-controlled House committees building an impeachment case against Trump. Parnas and Fruman – who reportedly helped arrange a meeting between Giuliani and Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko in January – declined to testify, with Democrats threatening subpoenas in response.
The impeachment case centers around allegations that Trump and his administration pressured the newly-elected Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky into reopening an investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine, where he was paid a lucrative salary to sit on the board of an energy company, despite having no qualifications in the field.
Trump and Zelensky both maintain that the phone call was innocent, with Trump describing it as “perfect” and releasing a transcript. The president has publicly called on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, and Kiev’s top prosecutor reopened the case last week. Trump believes that Biden wielded his political influence to land his son the energy job, using the promise of military aid to Ukraine as leverage.
Speaking to the Miami Herald last month, Parnas called the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry a “soap opera” and a “headache.”
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