The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Two associates of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pushed a GOP congressman to seek the ouster of the US ambassador to Ukraine at the same time as the associates were helping to bankroll the congressman's campaign, according to a federal indictment and campaign finance records.
The indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, which was unsealed today, shows how they discussed with former Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas to seek Marie Yovanovitch’s ouster. Both were later accused of lying to investigators about illegal campaign contributions they made to Sessions.
The indictment alleges that a "Congressman-1" had been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million in independent expenditures by "Committee-1.”
CNN has identified the committee as America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC. Global Energy Producers, a company created by Parnas and Fruman, donated $325,000 to the pro-Trump super PAC and are alleged to have concealed the true source of that money. The PAC said in a statement that they placed the money in a “segregated bank account” and have not used the funds.
Parnas and Fruman met with Sessions at a pro-Trump super PAC event in 2018.
Sessions is not named in the indictment, nor is he charged with the crime.
“At and around the same time, Parnas and Fruman committed to raising those funds for Congressman-1. Parnas met with Congressman-1 and sought Congressman-1’s assistance in causing the U.S. Government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine,” the indictment states.
Sessions did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment from CNN.
Some context: Fruman and Parnas were detained at Dulles airport outside of Washington last night and are expected to appear in court in Virginia on today. Both associates are connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York.
At least 228 House Democrats have publicly stated their support for the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to CNN's latest count. There are 235 members of the Democratic caucus in total — leaving just 7 holdouts.
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who has since become an independent, has also called for an impeachment investigation, bringing the total number of representatives to 229, or more than half of the 435-member chamber.
A simple majority of the House is needed to vote to impeach the President in order to send the process to the Senate.
Why this matters: With the White House stonewalling the impeachment inquiry and tensions growing, Republicans have called on Democrats to vote to formally open an impeachment investigation. While the Constitution specifies that the House must vote in order to impeach the President, it does not require that the House must vote to open an impeachment investigation.
Two Rudy Giuliani-linked associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were detained at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington on Wednesday and are scheduled to appear in court this afternoon.
Also on Thursday afternoon, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York — who is prosecuting the two men for alleged campaign finance violations — will hold a press conference to formally announce the indictment in the case.
Fruman and Parnas were booked into the Alexandria, Virginia jail late Wednesday evening, around 11 p.m., according to a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. They were released to federal authorities this morning, the spokeswoman said.
John Dowd, the attorney who represented Parnas and Fruman in their dealings with Congress, has no comment on the indictment.
Both men are connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Fruman and Parnas are due in court in Virginia at 2 p.m. ET.
Jay Sekulow, President Trump's personal attorney, claims that "neither the candidate nor the campaign" have anything to do with the men arrested on criminal charges for violating campaign finance rules.
“Read the indictment. Neither the candidate nor the campaign have anything to do with the scheme these guys were involved in," Sekulow said.
Some context: Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas were detained at Dulles airport outside of Washington last night and are expected to appear in court in Virginia on today. Both associates are connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York.
Attorney General William Barr was briefed earlier this year on the investigation into two Rudy Giuliani associates and supported the prosecution, a DOJ official told CNN.
Barr discussed the probe at Justice of businessmen Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas—who are also connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine about presidential candidate Joe Biden—in February after he took office.
Barr is scheduled to visit the US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York today, for what is described as a routine visit.
The SDNY is prosecuting Fruman and Parnas. The two were taken into federal custody on charges of violating campaign finance rules.
Asked about the arrest of his two associates —who are also connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine about presidential candidate Joe Biden — President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN, "I can’t comment at this point.”
The two associates of Giuliani, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were arrested Wednesday on criminal charges for violating campaign finance rules.
The case is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York. You can read the indictment here.
Two associates of Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, were arrested Wednesday on criminal charges for violating campaign finance rules, according to the spokesperson for the Southern District of New York's federal prosecutor's office.
Both associates are connected to efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas were detained at Dulles airport outside of Washington and are expected to appear in court in Virginia on Thursday.
The investigation was conducted by the SDNY.
Parnas was Giuliani's fixer in Ukraine, introducing him to current and former officials as far back as 2018, according to CNN's reporting
The two men gave hundreds of thousands in donations to a Trump-allied super PAC, according to the Miami Herald.
President Trump is attacking Fox News this morning for their poll on impeachment, tweeting “whoever their Pollster is, they suck” adding that the network is “much different than it used to be in the good old days.”
Trump named specific Fox News hosts and analysts who he disagrees with, including Andrew Napolitano, Shep Smith and Donna Brazile.
“@FoxNews doesn’t’ deliver for US anymore. It’s so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!” Trump added.
What is this all about: Fox News released a poll Wednesday night that found 51% of registered voters want Trump to be impeached and removed from office. That’s a new high in Fox’s polling, up 9 points since July, with increases coming across party lines.
The poll also finds that 51% feel the Trump administration is more corrupt than previous administrations, up 6 points in the last month.
Asked to rate how “troubling” Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainian president are, 51% rate them extremely or very troubling, while just 26% say they are not at all troubling.
President Trump tweeted a link to a Fox News story of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying there was “no blackmail” in the controversial July phone call.
Trump adds that Zelensky’s comments should “immediately end the talk of impeachment!”
Zelesnky said Thursday morning that there was “no blackmail at all” during his phone call with US President Trump in July.
Furthermore, Zelensky said he was unaware that US military aid was being held up at the time.
“No we didn’t speak about it. I didn’t know about it. This information I got from our minister and this information I got before September, before the meeting in Warsaw with the Vice President Mr. Pence,” Zelensky said. The subject of military aid to Ukraine “was not the subject of the phone call.”
More context here: When he was asked by a journalist during a press conference in Kiev on Thursday about the US and Ukrainian transcripts of the call that was published, Zelensky said the call was strictly about improving relations between the two countries.
“Honestly speaking, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t check. I’d think they [the transcripts] correspond, they correspond completely. I remember the main highlights: I wanted strong support from the United States," Zelenskey said. "I said: we have to.. there was no conditions to the meeting around Burisma, not Burisma, or military aid. There was none of that. We had to improve our relations, we had to have our first meeting. that’s all.”