Two Florida businessmen and associated for Rudy Giuliani, president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, were arrested at Dulles International Airport with one-way tickets out of the country. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are charged with campaign finance violations and the prosecution could prove a further complication for the Trump legal team. Some media outlets are reporting that the men had lunch with Giuliani only hours before their arrest. Trump has said “I don’t know them” and told reporters to “ask Rudy.”
The men are charged with using a limited liability corporation, Global Energy Producers, to “intentionally cause certain large contributions to be reported in the name of GEP instead of in their own names.” The contribution was a $325,000 donation to Trump’s reelection effort.
Both Parnas and Fruman have been mentioned as part of Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine. Parnas reportedly sought to get a member of Congress to push for the firing of the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine. The member has been reported as former Rep. Pete Sessions (R., Tx). The men are being represented by John Dowd, who previously represented President Trump.
Given the high level of scrutiny of Giuliani and his associates, any such violation, if true, would be breathtakingly stupid. While this occurred before the uptick in coverage of the Ukraine controversy, Giuliani and his operations were already the focus of countless reporters.
This type of case tends to be relatively easy to prosecute. Either the money came from the corporation or it did not. That could lead one or both of the men to seek a plea agreement. The benefit of an agreement however depends on whether you have something to trade. The one thing they may have is information and, even if they do not seek a deal, Congress will be eager to speak to the men on the Ukraine matter. They are now much easier to locate.