Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were nabbed at Dulles airport (perhaps) “trying to flee the country” and have been indicted for financial violations but more importantly in connection to Rudy Giuliani’s role in the Arms for Dirt scandal. Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) is mentioned as ‘Congressman-1’, one of their targets in the indictment.
— CNN International (@cnni) October 10, 2019
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) October 10, 2019
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) October 10, 2019
The Giuliani associates had been working with the former New York mayor on a campaign to discredit former Vice President Joe Biden and investigate alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Giuliani has said he undertook those efforts, which are now at the heart of congressional impeachment inquiries, in his capacity as a personal lawyer for President Donald Trump.
Some of the charges against Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, stem from alleged activities related to their work with Giuliani, including a successful effort to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, removed from her post.
Ahead of her May dismissal, Giuliani had complained about Yovanovitch to Trump. At the time, Giuliani was working with the Ukraine-born Parnas and the Belarus-born Fruman to dig up dirt on Biden, whose son Hunter served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. In May, the former New Yorker mayor described Parnas and Fruman as his clients.
Meanwhile, House investigators on Thursday also subpoenaed Parnas and Fruman over their work with Giuliani as part of the ongoing impeachment probe. Lawmakers are seeking documents related to their efforts to remove Yovanovitch, as well as materials related to any role they played in pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
— Polly Sigh (@dcpoll) October 10, 2019
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) October 10, 2019
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) October 10, 2019
Ã¢ÂÂ Polly Sigh (@dcpoll) October 7, 2019
(Harry) Sargeant, who donated $100K in Jun to the Trump Victory Fund, told a senior exec at Ukraine’s state-run gas company that he regularly meets with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and that the gas-sales plan had Trump’s full support [because he's getting a cut?].
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.
Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.
Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.
But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.
A former business partner of Andrew Favorov [senior exec at Ukraine’s state-run gas company, Naftogaz] said that Favorov described his meeting with Sargeant, (Igor) Fruman, and (Lev) Parnas to him soon after it happened and that Favorov perceived it to be a shakedown.
— Nina Bernstein (@NinaBernstein1) October 10, 2019
Until now, the men have escaped detailed scrutiny. But a joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and BuzzFeed News, based on interviews and court and business records in the United States and Ukraine, has uncovered new information that raises questions about their influence on U.S. political figures.
Both men were born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States. Parnas came with his family at the age of four. Fruman first arrived as a young adult in the 1980s, but later moved to Ukraine and established a series of businesses. Both now live in South Florida.
Since late 2018, the men have introduced Giuliani to three current and former senior Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss the politically damaging information.
The effort has involved meetings in at least five countries, stretching from Washington, D.C. to the Israeli office of a Ukrainian oligarch accused of a multi-billion dollar fraud, and to the halls of the French Senate.
Parnas and Fruman’s work with Giuliani has been just one facet of their political activity.
Experts have largely dismissed most of the allegations raised by the prosecutors and relayed by Giuliani as being at best unfounded, and at worst deliberate disinformation.
Both Shokin and Lutsenko are widely viewed among Ukrainian reformers as lacking credibility, and civil society groups have accused them of covering for suspects in major corruption cases.
Joe Biden had indeed pushed for Shokin’s dismissal, threatening that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if he remained.
“I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recounted in a 2018 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”
However, Biden was not alone in his disdain for Shokin. The former top prosecutor was dismissed by parliament after a chorus of criticism by European diplomats and international organizations, and even street protests calling for his resignation.
Local anti-corruption activists had become convinced Shokin was quashing investigations into Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, and other oligarchs, said Daria Kaleniuk, the director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, a Ukrainian transparency group.
“Shokin was not dismissed because he wanted to investigate Burisma,” Kaleniuk said. “Quite the contrary. He was dismissed because of a lack of willingness to investigate this particular case as well as other important cases involving high-level associates of [ousted former President Viktor] Yanukovych.”
As for Lutsenko, Kaleniuk said his claims were likely motivated by a desire to hold on to his job as top prosecutor with the incoming Zelensky administration, as well as to find friends in the United States government, where he has long been viewed as toxic.
“He wanted to become a person with whom people in the United States wanted to talk, and then probably he found Giuliani and found a sexy story that fit into the Giuliani agenda,” Kaleniuk said.
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) October 10, 2019