On Thursday, Oct. 17, two businessmen accused of illegally donating foreign money into Republican campaigns with association to Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pleaded not guilty in a federal court located in Manhattan.
The two businessmen, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, had purportedly worked with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to illegally donate foreign funds to a Trump-linked PAC. In a recent grand jury indictment created last week by Geoffrey Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York stated that the two associates of Giuliani, Parnas and Fruman had set up a shell company in order to obscure the foreign origins of a donation of $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action.
The act had reportedly been noticed last year first by the nonprofit watchdog Campaign Legal Center. The indictment had accused Parnas and Fruman of scheming to aid former Ukraine Chief Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko and a person with supposed “Russian roots” gain illegal access to the U.S politicians and government officials through foreign campaign contributions to quicken business proceedings and exploit personal financial interests.
According to prosecutors, additional contributions had also been made by Correia, Parnas, Fruman and Kukushkin, to politicians in New York, Nevada and other states on both federal and local levels to gain support for newly created marijuana businesses.
A grand jury issued a subpoena earlier this week for former Texas Republican Representative Pete Sessions, who is thought to be one of the congressmen mentioned in the indictment. The indictment stated that Fruman and Parnas had met with “congressmen-1” during the 2018 campaign and pledged to raise 20,000 in campaign donations for Sessions, in exchange for possible assistance in removing then-U.S Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Yovanovitch recently testified to House investigators as part of the Democrats’ impeachment process of the president. Yovanovitch had already been fired from her post in May and had told lawmakers that her departure had occurred after Giuliani’s criticisms of her. Giuliani had accused Yovanovitch of bad mouthing Trump without evidence, as well as attempting to protect the Bidens, who have been accused of corruption over a seat on the board of a Ukranian energy company by Trump and Giuliani without any evidence.
Giuliani, former mayor of New York, stated that he hadn’t been aware of any illegal campaign donations by Parnas and Fruman and that he hasn’t reviewed the evidence brought against the two businessmen yet.
In an undated photograph posted last July by Ukraine’s chief rabbi on his Facebook page, two men who appear to be Correia and Fruman pose alongside Trump at an event for the PAC, America First Action. Parnas and Correia are also business partners in a firm named Fraud Guarantee, promising to help investors reduce the risk of fraud and to “mitigate the damage caused by fraudulent acts,” as stated on its website. Parnas and Correia are accredited as co-founders of the firm.
New Jersey couple Dianne and Michael Pues, who say after they invested in a failed movie venture by Parnas, sat down for an interview with the “Herald” where they claimed that they are still owed $500,000. They also accused Correia of threatening them on account of his partner.
“He said we no longer knew who we were dealing with and that the Ukrainians had ties all the way up to the State Department and the White House and they were partners with Rudy Giuliani,” said Pues.