- US President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he doesn’t know two associates of Rudy Giuliani – Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman – who were arrested on charges of funnelling foreign money into US elections.
- But pictures have emerged showing Trump with the men, including one showing Parnas with Trump at the White House in May 2018.
- “I don’t know those gentlemen. Now it’s possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody, I have a picture with everybody here,” Trump said, according to a pool report.
- Parnas and Furman played a key role in helping Giuliani attempt to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
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US President Donald Trump on Thursday told reporters that he doesn’t know two Ukrainian associates of Rudy Giuliani arrested on campaign finance charges – despite being pictured with both of them.
The previous evening Florida-based businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman – clients of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani – were arrested on charges of campaign finance violations involving a pro-Trump PAC and Republican candidates.
“I don’t know those gentlemen. Now it’s possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody, I have a picture with everybody here,” Trump said, according to a pool report.
“But somebody said that there may be a picture or something at a fundraiser or somewhere. But I have pictures with everybody.”
“I don’t know them. I don’t know about them. I don’t know what they do but I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy, I just don’t know,” continued the president.
Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Washington Dulles Airport with one-way tickets to Europe. Prosecutors said played key roles in helping Giuliani pursue unsubstantiated claims that Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, were engaged in improper conduct in Ukraine.
They were arrested and charged with violating campaign-finance laws, The Wall Street Journal reported.
As the pair cultivated contacts in top Republican circles, they came into the orbit of the president himself and the president’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
On their now deleted Facebook accounts, the men documented the meetings.
On May 1 2018 Parnas posted a picture of himself with Trump at the White House with the caption “thank you President Trump !!! Making America Great !!!!!! incredible dinner and even better conversation.”
⚡ Trump had dinner with Parnas at the White House on or about May 1, 2018, according to @OCCRP
— David S. Joachim (@davidjoachim) October 10, 2019
Twenty days later, Parnas posted a picture of himself with Fruman and Donald Trump Jr. at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge in California. “Power breakfast !!!” he wrote in the caption.
The pair also reportedly attended functions at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to the Organised Crime and Corruption reporting project.
A picture published by the Miami Herald shows Parnas, Fruman, Giuliani and Trump together, though the date and location of the image is unclear.
— Tim O'Brien (@TimOBrien) October 10, 2019
Hours before their arrest Giuliani met with the pair at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Giuliani declined to comment on the report when contacted by CNN.
Trump is under increasing pressure over his attempts to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, with Democrats launching an impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower raised an alarm over the behaviour of Trump and administration officials.
According to Buzzfeed News, Parnas and Furman brokered meetings between Giuliani and former Ukrainian officials who, without citing evidence, have alleged that Biden pressured a Ukrainian official investigating a firm where Hunter Biden was employed to resign.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general has said that there is no evidence to implicate Hunter Biden in wrongdoing.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
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