President Trump said Thursday that he doesn’t know the two business associates of his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who were arrested on campaign finance charges on Wednesday, but acknowledged he may have been photographed with them at some point.
“I don’t know those gentleman. Now, it’s possible I have a picture with them because I have a picture with everybody,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.
“I don’t know them, I don’t know about them, I don’t know what they do,” Trump added. “I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy’s. You’d have to ask Rudy.”
It begins >> https://t.co/6cOZ4ONqgE
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 10, 2019
A photograph of Trump smiling with Giuliani and Soviet-born businessmen, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, has been published by multiple news outlets.
Who are you going to believe about Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas?
Jay Sekulow, who says Trump has nothing to do with Rudy’s henchmen?
— Grant Stern (@grantstern) October 10, 2019
Trump acknowledged Thursday that he may have been photographed with the two men at a fundraiser.
Fruman and Parnas were attempting to leave the U.S. when they were arrested on campaign finance violation charges at the airport on Wednesday evening.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s office said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that the two men were arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia with one-way international tickets.
“These allegations are not about some technicality, a civil violation or an error on a form,” William Sweeney, assistant director in charge at the FBI’s New York office, said at the press conference. “This investigation is about corrupt behavior [and] deliberate lawbreaking.”
“Protecting the integrity of our elections and protecting our elections from unlawful foreign influence are core functions of our campaign finance laws and as this office has made clear, we will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who engage in criminal conduct that draws into question the integrity of our political process,” said U.S Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
— Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance) October 10, 2019
Prosecutors also outlined charges against a third man, Andrey Kukushkin, who was arrested in California, and a fourth man, American businessman David Correia, who has been indicted but not yet arrested.
The men are accused of engaging in a scheme using a shell company called Global Energy Producers to funnel donations to numerous Republican political committees, including ones supporting Trump and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).
The contributions, the indictment alleges, were “made for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian government officials, including at least on Ukrainian government official with whom they were working.”
The organization made a $320,000 donation to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC in May 2018, according to campaign finance filings.
Photos of Frumas and Parnas with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, have also circulated on social media Thursday.
— Jasmine 🇺🇸 (@Jasminexxx11) October 10, 2019
CNN reported Thursday that Giuliani’s financial dealings with Frumas and Parnas were being scrutinized by federal investigators.
When asked if he was concerned that Giuliani may be indicted, Trump told reporters that he hoped that wouldn’t be the case. Trump also said he hadn’t spoken about the matter with Giuliani.
“I haven’t spoken to Rudy about it I will say this, from what I heard … they said we have nothing to do with it.”