The criminal indictment against two associates of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani describes an elaborate, months-long scheme to funnel foreign money into federal and state elections around the U.S. to curry favor with politicians on behalf of at least one Ukrainian government official and a Russian businessman.
Parnas and Fruman made their initial appearance at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Thursday.
Sessions, who lost his reelection bid a year ago, is one of three House candidates that the pair donated directly to during the 2018 election cycle, along with the Republican National Committee, the Trump campaign and a pro-Trump super PAC, according to Federal Elections Commission data.
The former lead lawyer for President Donald Trump, representing him during the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian Federation and Trump, John Dowd, is now representing the two Ukrainian-born men arrested overnight attempting to leave the country.
Details of the indictment are expected later on Thursday.
Fruman and Parnas are soldiers in the Giuliani family, which is like a lot of operations accused of organized law-breaking, except instead of using influence and intimidation to dominate Vegas, they use bumbling and Epoch Times headlines to litter a presidency with incriminating evidence. The indictment does not mention Giuliani or suggest that he was part of the alleged crimes.
The men reportedly introduced Giuliani to two former Ukrainian prosecutors who claimed Joe Biden had a former chief prosecutor fired in 2016 in order to sabotage an investigation into a natural gas company where Hunter Biden held a lucrative board membership. It alleges that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman leveraged a flurry of GOP political donations in a campaign to force Yovanovitch's removal, an effort prosecutors say was aided by laundered foreign money. Foreigners are not permitted to contribute to USA elections.
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, sits during her meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev in March.
Two other people were charged in the indictment: David Correia, a USA businessman, and Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born US businessman who was a vice president of a Russian hedge fund before becoming involved in several marijuana-related businesses in California. "I referred them to a campaign finance expert who pretty much resolved it".
To a prosecutor's eye, this really looks increasingly like one big scheme, overseen by Trump and Giuliani, to obtain illegal assistance from Ukraine in the 2020 election.
"This was during the campaign, early in the campaign, and they did come by my office and I did meet them and I did meet them off the Hill and they did become contributors", Sessions said on Lone Star Politics on KXAS-TV.
"Mr. Parnas and Mr. Furman", Dowd continues, "have also been represented by Mr. Giuliani in connection with their personal and business affairs". I mean, you know, he's got a lot of clients, so I just don't know.
"Today's indictments, though, likely represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of foreign meddling in general but also by Parnas and Fruman", said Ryan.
He said he gave the money to America First Action committee because "we are huge supporters of the president".
The pair were accused of funneling foreign funds to U.S. political campaigns, including $325,000 which went to a fundraising committee for Trump's 2020 reelection.
Speaking to the Miami Herald last month, Parnas called the Democrats' impeachment inquiry a "soap opera" and a "headache". This might be taken as more reason to suspect that the men charged with carrying out Trump's foreign policy in Ukraine had a less than innocent state of mind.
Also serving in leadership roles at the Trump-aligned PAC were Tommy Hicks Jr., a Dallas investor and the current Republican National Committee co-chairman, as well as Nick Ayers, the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence.