Two associates of Giuliani have been charged with funneling foreign money to U.S. political campaigns, and President Trump says he doesn’t know them.
Top GOP lawmaker Kevin McCarthy said Thursday he plans to donate $111,000 that was given to the House Republicans’ main fundraising committee by two businessmen arrested on campaign finance charges.
McCarthy, the House minority leader and a close ally of President Donald Trump, said the money from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman – both of whom are associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani – would be given to charity.
A handful of Republican campaign committees received nearly $500,000 from Parnas and Fruman, Ukrainian-born businessmen who helped Giuliani meet a Ukrainian prosecutor.
“The deception documented in today’s indictment has no place in our country and as a result, McCarthy plans to donate amounts received to a local charity,” a spokesperson for McCarthy said in a statement.
Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine are under scrutiny as House Democrats pursue an impeachment probe against Donald Trump, centering on an anonymous whistleblower complaint that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate 2020 rival Joe Biden.
The indictment charges the businessmen with seeking to “advance their personal financial interests and the political interests of at least one Ukrainian government official with whom they were working.”
Prosecutors allege that they “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 candidates, campaigns and the candidates’ governments.”
The two also created Global Energy Producers, a limited liability company, to hide their funding sources and conceal their names on large contributions, the indictment says.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he plans to return nearly $50,000 he received, according to a report by The Miami Herald. According to the Herald, Parnas attended fundraisers for DeSantis in 2018.
“The allegations regarding Global Energy Producers to the governor’s affiliated political action committee in 2018 are troubling,” a DeSantis spokesperson told the Herald. “Therefore, Governor DeSantis is directing the political action committee to return the money to the federal government.”
In comments to reporters on Thursday, Trump denied knowing the two businessmen despite the existence of a photo of him with Parnas at the White House.
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