US President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he doesn't know two associates of Rudy Giuliani - Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman - who were arrested on charges of funnelling foreign money into US elections.
Earlier this week, both men were arrested at Dulles International Airport on charges of violating USA campaign funding laws as the two tried to board a flight out of the USA with one-way tickets.
They are expected to appear on Thursday in federal court in Virginia. The charges against the two men tie them to efforts of influencing USA politics and policy by using foreign funds. The businessmen are accused of making illegal political contributions, and they attended fundraisers and political events to help their scheme.
They donated $US325,000 ($480,000) to a pro-Trump political action committee called America First Action in May, 2018, and the money was falsely reported as coming from a purported natural gas company set up to hide its true source, according to the indictment. Parnas gave $50,000 to Trump's 2016 election effort. CLC uncovered the Trump campaign donation in July 2018.
Through Global Energy Producers, Parnas and Fruman made a $325,000 donation to a committee for President Donald Trump and a $50,000 donation to a Governor Ron DeSantis committee. He says Parnas and Fruman were acting at the request of a Ukrainian government official. The Ukrainian official is not identified.
Two other men, American-born David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born USA citizen, were also charged in the case. Kukushkin has been arrested in California, but Correia remains at large, the official said.
President Trump says that he doesn't know the two business associates of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who were arrested on campaign finance charges but acknowledged he may have been photographed with them at some point.
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The men had key roles in Giuliani's efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, the Associated Press reported. He connected him with current and former prosecutors in the country. "They may not evade requests from Congress for documents and information necessary to conduct our inquiry", three House committee chairmen said.
In a previous letter to the Intelligence Committee, John Dowd, a civil lawyer for Parnas and Fruman, said the two men have been represented by Giuliani in connection with their personal and business affairs, and also said they have assisted Giuliani in his representation of Trump.
The indictment also alleges Parnas and Fruman committed to raising $20,000 for a sitting congressman and asked the lawmaker for help in removing the American ambassador to Ukraine.
Toward the end of Sessions' toughest - and unsuccessful - campaign for reelection a year ago, Giuliani headlined a fundraiser on his behalf.
Speaking to reporters on October 10, USA vice president Mike Pence said that he was working on releasing the transcripts of his earlier calls with the Ukrainian president.
FILE - U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, attends a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 6, 2019.
Speaking to the Miami Herald last month, Parnas called the Democrats' impeachment inquiry a "soap opera" and a "headache".