Rudy Giuliani associates plead not guilty in Trump donation case

Igor Fruman arrives at federal court for an arraignment hearing on October 23, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesTwo associates of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan to criminal charges related to an allegedly illegal donation to a Trump-linked PAC and other actions.The two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been working with Giuliani in his effort to uncover damaging information about former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine.That effort and Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine to investigate Biden is at the center of an ongoing impeachment inquiry into Trump.Parnas and Fruman are accused of making a $325,000 illegal straw donation to a Trump political action committee, and making another $15,000 in illegal donations to another committee.The men are accused of hiding the fact that the money came from a foreign national. Foreigners are barred from contributing to campaigns for federal office.During the same month they donated the money to the Trump PAC, Parnas posted photos on Facebook of himself and Fruman with Trump, as well as with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son.The charges against the two men, who were arrested October 9 at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia as they were about to board a flight to Vienna with one-way tickets, include conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.An indictment accuses them of a scheme to help former Ukraine chief prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko and a person who is described as having “Russian roots” gain access to U.S. politicians and government officials through campaign contributions to advance business and personal financial interests.Fruman and Parnas’ co-defendants, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, were arraigned last week and pleaded not guilty to a single conspiracy count.Parnas, who is a native of Ukraine, was freed on $1 million bond secured by $200,000 cash. Fruman, who was born in Belarus, is free on the same amount of bond, secured by $100,000 cash and a Florda condominium valued at $900,000.Both men must stay in their Florida homes and be monitored by a GPS device as a condition of their bonds.At the arraignment, a lawyer for Parnas said the case involved “a lot of information” that is covered by “attorney-client” privilege, “and perhaps executive privilege information.”Executive privilege refers to a president’s right to keep information related to executive branch actions kept confidential.”We have Mr. Giuliani working for the president of the United States,” said Parnas’s lawyer, Edward McMahon. “These are issues we need to be sensitive to.”Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-Floridian businessman who is both a client and associate of Rudy Giulianis arrives for his arraignment in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) on October 23, 2019.Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images”He did not work for the United States Government,” McMahon said of Parnas. But, the lawyer added, “He worked for Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Giuliani worked for the president.”Giuliani has not been charged in the case. But federal prosecutors in the case reportedly after investigating his connections with Parnas and Fruman.Federal prosecutor Rachel Donelski said “we’re aware of those privilege issues, we have a filter team in place and we’ve had a filter team in place.”A filter team is a separate team of investigators who review evidence before it is turned over to the prosecutors and investigators who are actually prosecuting a criminal case. Evidence that is deemed privileged is not given to the prosecutorial team.Donelski said the investigation has involved “multiple premises searches” and evidence related to “a dozen separate telephone numbers.” She also said that records from 50 bank accounts have been subpoeaned.The “investigation is on-going,” she said.Parnas spoke to reporters outside of court.”Many false things have been said about me and my family,” Parnas said. “I look forward to defending myself vigorously in court and I am certain that in time truth will be revealed and I will be vindicated,””I put my faith in God.”Parnas’s lawyer Joseph Bondy said, “We look forward to defending Mr. Parnas in court based upon the evidence and not a smear campaign that’s been driven by self-serving and misleading leaks apparently from the highest levels of our government.”

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