President Trump says he doesn't know two Rudy Giuliani associates arrested for campaign finance violations—although photos posted on social media show that he has definitely met Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas. The Florida businessmen also posted a picture of themselves having breakfast with Donald Trump Jr. last year. "I don't know those gentlemen," Trump said Thursday, per USA Today. He added: "Now it's possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody." Asked whether he thought Giuliani, his personal attorney, could also be indicted, the president said: "Well I hope not ... I don't know how he knows these people." More:
- Giuliani isn't distancing himself. The two men, who were born in the former Soviet Union, helped Giuliani investigate Joe Biden in Ukraine. Giuliani told the Washington Post Thursday that the men helped him "find people." "I certainly am not going to disavow them," he said. "I have no reason to doubt them. Everything I’ve known about them says they would not commit a crime." Giuliani declined to confirm reports that he dined with the men at the Trump International Hotel in Washington hours before they were arrested Wednesday.
- The accusations. Fruman and Parnas have been charged with conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, and falsification of records. They were arrested Wednesday as they attempted to get on a one-way flight from Washington to Frankfurt, Germany, sources tell the AP. Prosecutors say the two men illegally funneled foreign money to candidates and groups including a pro-Trump PAC. Trump and Giuliani have not been accused of wrongdoing related to the case.
- "Congressman One." The indictment says the two men "committed to raise $20,000 or more for a then-sitting US Congressman," who is identified only as "Congressman One," the Texas Tribune reports. Multiple reports say the congressman was former Rep. Pete Sessions.
- Sessions denies wrongdoing. In a statement Thursday, the Republican said he "will vigorously defend myself against any allegations of wrongdoing." The indictment alleges Parnas met with "Congressman One" to ask for his help in getting the administration to remove or recall the then-US Ambassador to Ukraine." Sessions wrote to Mike Pompeo saying the ambassador should be fired, but he says the letter was unrelated to the Parnas meeting.
- Donations to be returned. Axios reports that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have pledged to return or give to charity donations made by the two men.
- Super PAC won't spend money. The pro-Trump Super PAC "America First Action" says a $325,000 donation from the two men has been frozen in a segregated bank account since a July 2018 complaint from the FEC, the Wall Street Journal reports. The money "has not been used for any purpose, and the funds will remain in this segregated account until these matters are resolved," a spokeswoman says.
- Court appearance. At a court hearing Thursday, prosecutors argued that Parnas and Fruman, who are both US citizens, were flight risks, the New York Times reports. Bail was set as $1 million.
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