Rudy Giuliani had planned to leave for Vienna a day after his two associates were arrested while trying to board a flight to the same city, new reports have claimed.
Donald Trump’s personal attorney allegedly told The Atlantic reporter Elaina Plott he was unable to meet her for an interview on Thursday because he was planning to fly to the Austrian capital that evening.
This was the same destination Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman had reportedly held one-way tickets for when they were arrested at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on charges related to a $325,000 donation to a group supporting Trump’s re-election, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Fruman and Parnas were held on a four-count indictment which included charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.
Rudy Giuliani had planned to leave for Vienna a day after his two associates were arrested while trying to board a flight to the same city, new reports have claimed
The men allegedly had key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
On Giuliani’s visits to Ukraine, the pair had reportedly helped arrange meetings with Ukrainian officials as Giuliani tried to prove Biden and his family sold influence and squashed corruption investigations there.
Giuliani’s allegations spurred Trump to request the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden, in a phone call that is now at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment probe into Trump.
Wednesday’s indictments mark the first criminal charges related to the Ukraine controversy. While they do not suggest wrongdoing by the president, they raise additional questions about how those close to Trump and Giuliani sought to use their influence.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested on Wednesday on campaign finance charges
Giuliani has coffee with Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington in September
Trump has dismissed the impeachment inquiry as baseless and politically motivated. As he was leaving the White House for a political rally in Minneapolis, he said he didn’t know Parnas or Fruman and hadn’t spoken with Giuliani about them.
‘We have nothing to do with it,’ Trump said.
Giuliani said he couldn’t comment and that he didn’t represent the men in campaign finance matters.
Records show that Parnas and Fruman used wire transfers from a corporate entity to make the $325,000 donation to the America First Action committee in May 2018.
But wire transfer records that became public through a lawsuit show that the corporate entity reported as making the transaction was not the source of the money.
America First Action said the $325,000 contribution will remain in a separate account while the court cases play out. A spokeswoman, Kelly Sadler, said the committee will ‘scrupulously comply with the law.’
The donation to the Trump-allied PAC was part of a flurry of political spending tied to Parnas and Fruman, with at least $478,000 in donations flowing to GOP campaigns and PACs in little more than two months.
Giuliani is seen with Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Azman in May, when he was named honorary mayor of a Jewish hamlet near Kyiv
The money enabled the relatively unknown entrepreneurs to quickly gain access to the highest levels of the Republican Party, including meetings with Trump at the White House and Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Prosecutors allege that Parnas urged a congressman to seek the ouster of the US ambassador to Ukraine, at the behest of Ukrainian government officials.
This happened at around the same time Parnas and Fruman committed to raising more than $20,000 for the politician.
The congressman wasn’t identified in court papers, but the donations match campaign finance reports for former Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican who lost his re-election bid in November.
Parnas and Fruman appeared in court Thursday and were ordered to remain jailed as a bail package was worked out. They are due in court in New York next week.
Kevin Downing, the lawyer who represented former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on charges he hid millions of dollars that he earned in Ukraine, was representing the men for their initial appearance and declined to comment.
Giuliani has said of the arrests of Parnas and Fruman only that the timing is ‘suspicious’
Judge Michael Nachmanoff ordered Parnas and Fruman to post $1 million each in bail, surrender their passports and be subject to home detention, among other conditions, before they can be released from jail
Parnas’ business partner David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born US citizen, were also charged in the case. A federal judge in San Francisco ordered Kukushkin held on Thursday pending a bail hearing to determine whether he is considered a flight risk.
On Friday, a video surfaced of Giuliani with Parnas and Fruman in the lobby of Trump International Hotel in Washington DC in September 2018.
The clip shows the trio as they send their greetings to the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, Moshe Azman. ‘Moshe, baby, can’t wait to come back!’ Giuliani says. ‘See you in Ukraine soon,’ adds Parnas.
The video was posted on the Facebook page of the Anatevka Jewish Refugee Community, a charity set up to help Ukrainian Jews fleeing violence in the eastern part of the country.
Parnas and Fruman sit on the board of the charity, according to Jewish Insider, which first reported the video. Giuliani also has ties to Azman, and was pictured with the rabbi in May during a visit to the Ukraine.