Trump distances himself from indicted Giuliani associates

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE said Thursday that he doesn’t know the two associates of his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiParnas says he has turned over tape of Trump calling for diplomat's firing Pompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map ABC: Recording apparently captures Trump discussing Yovanovitch ouster with Parnas, Fruman MORE who were arrested on campaign finance charges, 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.”

A photograph of Trump smiling with Giuliani and the businessmen, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, has been published by various news outlets.

Trump acknowledged Thursday that he may have been photographed with the two men at a fundraiser.

Fruman and Parnas were arrested late Wednesday on charges that they conspired to illegally funnel foreign money to U.S. politicians in order to buy political influence.

The indictment unsealed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleges that they and two other defendants “conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments.”

Fruman and Parnas are business associates of Giuliani who reportedly worked with him to press Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated allegations against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE and 2016 election interference.

The indictment unsealed Thursday does not name Giuliani nor does it claim he knew of or was involved in the alleged scheme. But the developments have increased scrutiny on Trump’s personal attorney and the connections between the president’s inner circle and the two businessmen.

Photographs of Frumas and Parnas with Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpComedians post fake Army recruitment posters featuring Trump Jr. Trump Jr., Ivanka garner support in hypothetical 2024 poll FWS: There's 'no basis' to investigate Trump Jr.'s Mongolian hunting trip MORE, the president's eldest son, have also circulated on social media.

Frumas and Parnas, who donated to a political action committee that supported Trump, were arrested at Dulles International Airport Wednesday before attempting to board an international flight with one-way tickets. They made an initial appearance in court Thursday afternoon in Virginia.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said during a news conference Thursday that their investigation is ongoing.

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."

Updated at 5:18 p.m.