Two Giuliani Associates Arrested While Heading Out Of The Country

Two associates of President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani were arrested on their way out of the country, and the question is what connection Giuliani may have to the reasons behind their arrest.

Two foreign-born men associated with President Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani were abruptly arrested at Dulles Airport earlier this week, raising questions about whether or not Giuliani himself may be in legal jeopardy and what connection, if any, it may have to the ongoing Ukraine controversy:

Federal prosecutors unsealed charges on Thursday against two men who have aided President Trump’s efforts to gather damaging information in Ukraine about his political opponents, a criminal case that signaled growing legal exposure for the president’s allies as Mr. Trump tries to blunt an impeachment inquiry in Congress.

The indictment of the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, sketched a complex scheme to violate campaign finance laws and did not accuse Mr. Trump of wrongdoing. But it revealed new details about the push to pressure Ukraine: a campaign encouraged by Mr. Trump, led by his private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and assisted by obscure figures like Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman.

Mr. Trump continues to defend the effort, which is the focus of the impeachment inquiry that House Democrats opened last month. The new indictment, however, suggests the first criminal implications of the shadow foreign policy that Mr. Giuliani pushed on behalf of the president.

And it is another example of the extent to which the messy power dynamics of Ukraine — a former Soviet republic and close American ally with a recent history of political upheaval — now dominate discussions about Mr. Trump’s future. The impeachment inquiry began after a C.I.A. officer who has worked at the White House raised alarms about a July telephone call in which Mr. Trump seemed to suggest that American military aid was contingent on Ukraine’s help in unearthing information that could help Mr. Trump politically.

Mr. Giuliani has been public about his hunt for damaging information about Democrats, and the indictment gives a more complete picture about how he seems to have subcontracted part of the work to Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, two of his longtime associates.

It directly connected the two men to a key element of the pressure campaign, an effort to recall the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, after she became a focus of criticism from many of Mr. Trump’s allies. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman donated money and pledged to raise additional funds in 2018 — some violating legal limits — for a congressman who was then enlisted in the campaign to oust her, court papers showed.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that the two men were charged with making illegal campaign donations, and law enforcement officials harshly criticized the scheme.

On Thursday, William F. Sweeney Jr., the top agent in the F.B.I.’s New York office, said during a news conference that “campaign finance laws exist for a reason.”

“The American people expect and deserve an election process that hasn’t been corrupted by the influence of foreign interests,” he said, “and the public has a right to know the true source of campaign contributions.”

“Laws make up the fabric of who we are as a nation,” Mr. Sweeney added. “These allegations aren’t about some technicality, a civil violation or an error on a form. This investigation is about corrupt behavior and deliberate lawbreaking.”

The lawmaker is named in the indictment only as “Congressman-1,” but campaign finance filings identify him as former Representative Pete Sessions, Republican of Texas. Mr. Sessions, then the chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, wrote a letter in 2018 to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that Ms. Yovanovitch should be fired for privately expressing “disdain” for the current administration.

Mr. Sessions, who lost his re-election bid last year, said in a statement that he could not confirm that he was “Congressman-1” but that he would “vigorously defend myself against any allegations of wrongdoing” and that he had no knowledge of the scheme detailed by prosecutors.

It’s not clear what connection if any, all of this may have to the Ukraine investigation currently taking place in Congress and the efforts to solicit information about potential 2020 rivals such as former Vice-President Biden from Ukrainian officials. It does appear, though, that these men are connected to what appears to be Giuliani’s other project on behalf of Donald Trump, which is to chase down a conspiracy regarding the 2016 election that dismisses the idea of Russian interference in the election in favor of a different, and quite honestly bizarre, theory.

According to that theory, it was Ukraine rather than Russia who interfered in the 2016 election and that it was the Clinton campaign, not the Trump campaign, that was colluding with a foreign power to dig up dirt on an opponent. None of this conspiracy theory is credible, of course, but Giuliani appears to have convinced the President of its validity and the opinion hosts on Fox News Channel that are among Trump’s favorites on that network have been feeding the fire have helped in that regard as well. There’s no evidence to support this theory, of course, and it absolutely defies both credulity, the conclusions of America’s intelligence agencies, the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and all of the available evidence.

In any case, these men were arrested as they were headed to Vienna on one-way tickets and it just happens that Giuliani was supposed to be headed there himself, although he bizarrely claimed after their arrest that he was not scheduled to meet with the men until they were all back in the United States. Whether or not one believes that Giuliani was not going to meet up with two men who have been working with him while all three of them were in the same European city at the same time. Giuliani’s trip was apparently canceled, but it’s unclear whether or not that cancelation took place before or after the two men were arrested.

The obvious question here is whether or not Giuliani himself is involved in this investigation, which ironically is being conducted by the same U.S. Attorney’s Office that he once headed in the 1980s. That’s not clear, and one should be careful about concluding that Giuliani is wrapped up in all this personally but there are several signals that suggest that the former Mayor and current attorney for the President of the United States could be facing legal trouble that may or may not be related to his work for the President. For example, CNN reported last night that Giuliani’s dealings with these two men is a part of the underlying investigation. Meanwhile, Giuliani himself is saying that he is not aware of being part of any such investigation and that he has not been contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Of course, if Giuliani were a target or potential target then he would not necessarily have been contacted at this point.

Of course, if Rudy is being investigated he would be the second of the President’s lawyers to be under criminal investigation. The first one, you may recall, was indicted, plead guilty, essentially identifying the President as an unindicted co-conspirator, and is currently serving a three-year sentence in Federal prison. Does Rudy need to start worrying about a similar fate? Only time will tell.

Update: Here’s the indictment:

US V. Parnas Indictment by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Crime, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Pardon.
    Resign.
    Flee.

    At least these idiots figured out it was time to flee. Giuliani, who could have gone down in history as America’s Mayor thanks to his 911 prominence, may now die in prison. I’d say it’s Shakespearian, but comedy never was Will’s forte.

    Pence, Barr and Pompeo have an excellent chance of being impeached, and an even better chance of going to prison. The Trump Crime Family is falling apart. The mid-level folks are starting to see subpoenas and arrests. There will be more leaks, more people heading for the exits, more people willing to testify before the House committees. Trumpies are stupid, but are they really so stupid they’ll allow themselves to be bankrupted by legal bills and risk prison to defend a man they all know is corrupt and incompetent and devoid of loyalty to them?

    How much longer before Trump figures it out? Dear Don: Pardon everyone, resign from office, and run away, run away brave Sir Donny.

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  2. @michael reynolds:

    The interesting twist here, of course, is the fact that Rudy was supposed to be headed to Vienna to, ostensibly for a speaking gig. That appearance was supposedly canceled and Giuliani is now claiming that he wasn’t supposed to meet up with these two guys again until they were back in the United States.

    Except……….

    When they were arrested they were holding one-way tickets,

    So we’re supposed to believe that Rudy wasn’t going to meet up with two people he’s been working with while they were all in the same city at the same time and not meet up until the other two men were back in the US, even though it is entirely unclear if they were ever going to return to the US,

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  3. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: Except I can’t see Trump pardoning anyone unless he expects to get some quid-pro-quo from them down the road. He’s certainly not going to do it out of any sense of boss loyalty to them.

    Surprising the number of Trump flunkies who are still supporting him in spite of all the evidence that Trump will dump them under the bus in a New York City minute.

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  4. Scott says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The mid-level folks are starting to see subpoenas and arrests.

    I remember the Never-Trumper Rick Wilson saying that Congress doesn’t need to go after Trump but rather go after the subordinates and “grind them into the ground”.

    I do have a question for anyone. If there is an employee or staffer who wants to testify or provided evidence but the White House claims executive privilege or just says no, what is the consequences to the said staffer (other than being fired) is defying Trump, saying screw it, and testifying?

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  5. Teve says:

    Jim Acosta
    @Acosta
    ·
    12h
    On same day Giuliani associates are indicted, Eric Trump at Trump rally in MN on Biden: “lock him up.” Crowd chants: “lock him up.”

    ReplyReply
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Projection.

    ReplyReply
  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Scott:
    I’ve wondered that same thing. I’ve yet to hear an answer.

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  8. mattbernius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    That appearance was supposedly canceled and Giuliani is now claiming that he wasn’t supposed to meet up with these two guys again until they were back in the United States.

    Except……….

    When they were arrested they were holding one-way tickets,

    Not to mention that the pair had just had lunch that day with Giuliani a few hours before the arrest. But I’m sure that’s pure coincidence.

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: @michael reynolds: We may be about to find out: Scoop: EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland to testify next week

    U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is expected to testify next Wednesday before the House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine, despite being blocked by the State Department from appearing at a closed-door deposition this week, 4 congressional sources tell Axios.

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  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Colludy Rudy is in some deep doody….

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  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    Something for the office betting pool; at what point does Barr step in and quash this investigation? Then the obvious follow up; what do the DoJ staffers do with the information that they’ve already collected?

    The irony here is that Giuliani should have seen this coming, what the DoJ is doing is classic investigation tactics used against organized crime. Does he not remember using those tactics himself?

    @teve, @Michael: Another test will be Fiona Hill, who has agreed to testify next week. She’s Tiny’s former adviser on Russia and Eastern Europe, currently out of government.

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I read somewhere this morning that Barr has been aware of this investigation for several months. He probably figures this is a good way to cut down the competition for lead trump lawyer.

    ReplyReply
  13. Hal_10000 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I still think it’s likely that Trump sees everyone around him destroyed while he survives. But he’s rapidly burning his bridges. He’s attacking Romney and Fox News lately. And he’ll throw Rudy under the bus by the weekend. I never thought Republicans were so stupid as to not see what’s happening here. I suspect that the one bridge that will prove fatal to him is McConnell. If McConnell gets the feeling that Trump needs to be gone, Trump will be gone.

    Rudy’s fall from grace has been quite amazing, hasn’t it? Another reason that people should leave politics at his age, before they disgrace themselves.

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  14. sam says:

    Rudy, look out for the bus — the bus, Rudy, the bus!!!

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  15. Kathy says:

    @Hal_10000:

    And he’ll throw Rudy under the bus by the weekend.

    Perhaps he will. But Rudy deserves it.

    BTW, it would have been far less suspicious of Rudy if he’d gone to Vienna to deliver his alleged talk.

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  16. SKI says:

    @Scott: To that point, Sondland is saying he will comply with the subpoena and testify on 10/17 despite direction from State not to testify.

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  17. charon says:

    @michael reynolds:

    How much longer before Trump figures it out? Dear Don: Pardon everyone, resign from office, and run away, run away brave Sir Donny.

    The type of dementia he very likely has destroys frontal and temporal functions like judgment, planning, prioritizing early on – he is essentially lobotomized. He can not do as you suggest.

    Here is a thread with some rally cool photos – these two guys plus Trump, Pence and Rudy all in the same photo. Also pix of the two guys invited to dinner at the White House:

    https://twitter.com/Rschooley/status/1182310592012419074

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  18. Pylon says:

    “Will no one rid me of this turbulent Ukrainian Ambassador?”

    Just not as melodic.

    ReplyReply
  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    These people are very bad criminals. No tradecraft at all. I mean, at all.

    ReplyReply
  20. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    These people are very bad criminals. No tradecraft at all. I mean, at all.

    ReplyReply
  21. charon says:

    @charon:

    Note that these two fellows have been invited to dinner at the White House, but Trump says he does not know who they are.

    ReplyReply
  22. michael reynolds says:

    @charon:
    I just started a twitter poll to pick the date when Trump starts denying he knows Giuliani. Choices are Today, Tomorrow and Within 7 days.

    ReplyReply
  23. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think these arrests have caught Giuliani (and presumably Trump) flatfooted because the arrests did not come out of any investigation of the president’s activity.

    Instead, Diane and Michael Pues won a court judgement for $500,000 from Parnas and Fruman, saying the money was bilked from them on the pretext of a film investment. So they investigated the two, and found out about the donation, contending that money should have been theirs. This is what led the investigation of campaign contributions, and it was just luck that it all tied back to Trump.

    It makes me wonder who else is out there in the wind. There are two others named in the indictment – what’s their story?

    There’s another aspect of this story that makes me scratch my head. The NY FBI Field Office was up to its neck supporting Trump in 2016, and managed to play Comey into sending that last second letter to Congress. Sweeney ran the office when that happened. What was his involvement, and does he regret it now?

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  24. a country lawyer says:

    @Scott: He or she will probably get fired but unless classified information is revealed-nothing.

    ReplyReply
  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:
    What is your twitter address?

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  26. Stormy Dragon says:

    The thing that gets me the most about this is that they bought one way tickets. If you were planning to flee the country, wouldn’t you want to buy round trip tickets to avoid suspicion and then just eat the cost of the return ticket?

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  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Stormy Dragon: It does seem crazy, doesn’t it? But then, these guys might like the idea that nobody will be able to tell where they will be at any given time. Leave the smallest trail possible, and all that. There is a legion of creditors following them around, and a lawyer with a trust account feeding them money.

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  28. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Cheap. It’s always the dumb things that do in criminals.

    ReplyReply
  29. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Looks like these two (Parnas & Fruman) were quickly fleeing before an indictment was handed down. Makes me wonder if they were tipped off by Rudy (who has always had inside connections at NYSD). Is it illegal for an attorney to advise his client to flee the country to avoid justice?

    ReplyReply
  30. gVOR08 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Small point of curiosity – if you’re arrested at the airport, can you get a ticket refund?

    And I hope they’re watching the international airports for Trump and his family.

    ReplyReply
  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    @MichaelGrantBks I think.

    ReplyReply
  32. I finally tracked down a copy of the Indictment. It’s posted in an update for those interested.

    ReplyReply
  33. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If you were planning to flee the country, wouldn’t you want to buy round trip tickets to avoid suspicion and then just eat the cost of the return ticket?

    You don’t even have to eat the whole cost. Most airlines will let you apply part of it, minus fees and fare differences, for another ticket. It’s best if you cancel before the flight (some won’t let you have squat after the flight). I’ve done multiple times with my boss’s travel, when he has urgent meetings cancelled.

    I figure they’d still have been arrested. But it would have helped them, even if only a little, at trial.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    It’s not clear what connection if any, all of this may have to the Ukraine investigation currently taking place in Congress and the efforts to solicit information about potential 2020 rivals such as former Vice-President Biden from Ukrainian officials.

    These two gentlemen had already been asked to testify, and were fleeing ahead of a deadline to produce documents. Their lawyer had sent a lovely note to the House’s “alleged impeachment investigation”, in Comic Sans, explaining that these two gentlemen are part of the President’s legal team.

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  35. Lounsbury says:

    @michael reynolds: among the first thing I wonder in reading all this is whether the New York federal enforcement officials should not hand over any evidence on non-federal items (one presumes in reading that parts of the crime may be NY State Law also, no?), to guard against the abusive dangling of pardon… as that is going to be a foregone conclusion now.

    ReplyReply
  36. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’d say it’s Shakespearian, but comedy never was Will’s forte.

    Titus Andronicus is hysterical, in a low-brow way. Romeo and Juliet is basically a Coen Brothers “idiots collide and destroy everyone around them” story.

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  37. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: was tybalt was the biggest idiot?

    ReplyReply
  38. CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: At this point, it’s about your future. If you get fired for testifying to Congress, yes that sucks but maybe you can be rehired later. A felony conviction means you can’t ever come back, plus some other disabilities, the cost of an expensive legal defense, lost wages from incarceration. Plus, if you are fired for that reason (testifying to Congress) there can be a suit for unlawful termination.

    If you are a midlevel employee or even lower, keeping yourself out of jail then is a better bet.

    ReplyReply
  39. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CarolDuhart2:
    Um…not clear why you addressed this to me?

    ReplyReply
  40. BIll says:

    @Gustopher:

    Titus Andronicus is hysterical, in a low-brow way. Romeo and Juliet is basically a Coen Brothers “idiots collide and destroy everyone around them” story.

    Don’t forget what Star Trek’s Garek thought about Julius Caesar- its a farce. Garek thought Brutus “…was going to betray Caesar in the first act, but Caesar didn’t figure it out until the knife was in his back.”

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  41. CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I was addressing Scott. Just a mistake

    ReplyReply
  42. al Ameda says:

    This is at a NASCAR level of spectatorship and viewer experience.
    We’re all watching as car after car is spinning out into the walls.
    It’s a slow motion disgrace.

    I’m hoping that somehow Geraldo Rivera is implicated as in this unfolding disgrace – say for example, that Giuliani sent him to Kiev to personally deliver to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman or their ‘associates’ $1 million in laundered Russian cash? That’s pay-per-view quality right there.

    ReplyReply
  43. Gustopher says:

    I wonder whether our long national nightmare would have come to a swift end if Rudy and his buddies fled the country. Would anyone defend Trump then?

    ReplyReply
  44. de stijl says:

    Imagine that this happened under Obama’s watch.

    ReplyReply
  45. Kathy says:

    @al Ameda:

    Maybe the GOP did avoid the civil war many predicted, but it is also taking in the casualties of one.

    ReplyReply
  46. MarkedMan says:

    @Lounsbury:

    to guard against the abusive dangling of pardon… as that is going to be a foregone conclusion now

    IANAL, but my understanding is that such a pardon is only useful enough to a President if they are not tied to the crime. If Trump pardons one of these discount rack clowns the Congress can compel them to testify because they are no longer jeopardized by self incrimination. If they refuse or are caught lying they can be found in contempt and held indefinitely.

    It can work the other way too. If Congress grants immunity about specific items, the person testifying has strong motive to list every single detail since they cannot be charged with anything revealed under immunity. I think that’s why Trump is so worried about a stream of people heading to the Hill to testify. He can’t trust anyone, because they could cut a deal and start singing their little hearts out with the cameras rolling.

    (OTB Lawyer Brigade – Feel free to jump in if I’m wrong)

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  47. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Gustopher:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’d say it’s Shakespearian, but comedy never was Will’s forte.

    Titus Andronicus is hysterical, in a low-brow way. Romeo and Juliet is basically a Coen Brothers “idiots collide and destroy everyone around them” story.

    Ever seen the Reduced Shakespeare Company? They skip his comedies “because the tragedies are funnier.”

    ReplyReply
  48. de stijl says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    Tragedies are funny when you’re not experiencing them. Distance allows it.

    When it is here and now, not really funny. Pretty awful, actually.

    The concept of a Trump presidency is hilarious. The reality is a nightmare.

    ReplyReply
  49. Barry says:

    @Kathy: “I figure they’d still have been arrested. But it would have helped them, even if only a little, at trial.”

    I’d have gone for the Canadian border, and bought a ticket there.

    ReplyReply
  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: “Other people’s misfortunes is the basis of all comedy.”

    ReplyReply

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