Two men with ties to both President Donald Trump's personal lawyer and Ukraine were charged Thursday with campaign finance violations involving a $325,000 contribution to a political action committee which is supporting the re-election campaign of the President.
The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were already under scrutiny by Democrats in Congress as part of the impeachment investigation aimed at President Trump.
Parnas and Fruman reportedly had helped Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, seek out damaging information in Ukraine related to the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Their attorney had already notified Democrats in Congress that neither Parnas nor Fruman would turn over documents requested by investigators, and would not appear for depositions this week on Capitol Hill, as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Their arrest was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Breaking: Two foreign-born men who helped Rudy Giuliani's efforts to investigate Joe Biden were arrested in the U.S. on charges of violating campaign-finance rules, say people familiar with the matter https://t.co/wtVpegmrwB— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) October 10, 2019
two $500,000 payments from Russian national in Sept & oct 2018 to funnel thru parnas and fruman in illegal donations to US pol entities pic.twitter.com/tMMGAAUbWM— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) October 10, 2019
The four count indictment charged that Parnas and Fruman had taken a variety of steps to shield the source of their campaign contributions, funneling "foreign money to candidates" and political action committees.
Prosecutors say the two men created a fake company, Global Energy Producers, and falsely reported that some campaign contributions came from GEP, described by the feds as a 'purported liquefied natural gas import-export business.'
Well this seems significant, part of the charges against Parnas and Fruman relate to funneling illegal contributions to a US Congressman and seeking his aid in getting Ambassador Yovanovitch removed. pic.twitter.com/KpOVQux45J— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) October 10, 2019
Two Ukrainian-born business partners, who showered Republican campaign committees with nearly $500,000 and dined with President Donald Trump at the White House, were arrested late Wednesday on campaign finances charges. https://t.co/gX8T2y96Jf via @usatoday— Kristine Phillips (@kristinegWP) October 10, 2019
The lawyer for Parnas and Fruman is John Dowd, who helped President Trump deal with legal matters during the Russia investigation.
The Associated Press reported that Dowd on Thursday hung up the phone when an AP reporter called for comment about the charges.
In a news conference in New York, federal prosecutors said on Thursday that Parnas and Fruman were arrested on Wednesday at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C.
Both men had one way tickets to an overseas destination.