Prosecutors say Giuliani associates were trying to leave the country with one-way tickets when arrested

Federal prosecutors said two associates of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani were attempting to leave the United States when they were arrested Wednesday evening on campaign finance violation charges.

The two men, Ukrainian-born businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested Wednesday night at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia with one-way international tickets, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s office said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

{mosads}The press conference outlined the charges against the two men as well as Andrey Kukushkin, who was arrested in California, and American businessman David Correia, who has been indicted but not yet arrested.

“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.

Prosecutors allege that the men engaged 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.”

According to campaign finance filings, the organization made a $320,000 donation to America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC in May 2018.

Parnas and Fruman also allegedly lobbied an unnamed congressman to push for the firing of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled in May. The details of the contributions line up with campaign finance records of donations to then-Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

The two reportedly introduced Giuliani to Ukrainian officials to discuss the firing of a prosecutor in that country. Trump has alleged without evidence that the prosecutor was fired to prevent an investigation into a company that former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden worked for.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the two men had lunch with Giuliani earlier on Wednesday at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

On Thursday, three House committees also subpoenaed Parnas and Fruman for documents relating to any efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his family or involving matters related to the Democratic National Committee or 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Updated at 2:55 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Pete Sessions Rudy Giuliani
See all Hill.TV See all Video