Two Giuliani associates arrested on campaign-finance charges

20 shows US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with Ukrainian American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC

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.

The indictment also charges that Fruman and Parnas schemed to raise and donate money for a then-sitting USA congressman at the same time they were asking that lawmaker to get the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her job. The indictment involves two people central to the impeachment inquiry in the House.

They are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia on Thursday.

Giuliani told Fox News that he represents Parnas and Fruman on a separate matter and called their arrest and indictment "timing suspect". They face four charges including conspiracy, falsification of records and lying to the Federal Election Commission about political donations. Both have been under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan. House Democrats have subpoenaed documents from Giuliani relating to those interactions. "American elections should be decided by Americans, not by "favours" from foreign governments", Pelosi tweeted on Thursday. Earlier that day, the two, according to The Wall Street Journal, had lunch with Rudy Giuliani.

"They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests", said Berman, "but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official, a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine [Marie Louise Yovanovitch]".

The commitment to raise more than $20,000 for the congressman was made in May and June 2018.

The real estate lawyer involved in the transfer, Russell Jacobs, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Soviet-born businessmen had been scheduled for depositions with House investigators this week though neither had been expected to show up.

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The first alleges that Fruman and Parnas colluded to violate campaign finance laws by using a shell company to skirt individual contribution limits.

A May 2019 fact-check by Snopes on the claim that Obama took $21.6 million in illegal foreign donations for his 2012 reelection campaign was found to be "mostly false". The statement said that the money was placed "in a segregated bank account", was not used, and "will remain in this segregated account until these matters are resolved".

"I can tell you that we scrupulously adhere to all laws and regulations", she said. The charges did not suggest wrongdoing by the president, but they are likely to add fuel to the House impeachment inquiry.

U.S. law prohibits foreign donations in American elections.

The Russian is not named but identified in court documents as a businessman. A co-conspirator said they should hide the foreign national's role in the business because of "his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it", according to the indictment.

The foreign national eventually made wire transfers totaling $1 million to Fruman and another unnamed individual a year ago, and the defendants used those funds to make donations to a number of political candidates in Nevada that they thought could help further their plans for the marijuana business, the indictment says.

According to the indictment, the businessmen saw opportunities in a booming American economy to make a lot of money.

This story is breaking.

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