Two foreign-born Florida businessmen, who helped Giuliani investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden, were charged in a scheme to illegally funnel Russian money to a pro-Trump election committee and other U.S. political candidates, prosecutors said on Thursday.
The arrest of Ukraine-born Lev Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Vienna was the latest dramatic development in a political saga that threatens Trump’s presidency.
Prosecutors said Parnas and Fruman conspired to contribute foreign money including at least $1 million from an unidentified Russian businessman to candidates for federal and state offices to buy influence. They donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump political action committee called America First Action in May 2018, and the money was falsely reported as coming from a purported natural gas company set up to conceal its true source, according to the indictment.
A fast-moving Democratic-led House of Representatives impeachment inquiry is centered on the Republican president’s request in a July phone call for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, the former vice president and a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
(Production: Deborah Lutterbeck)