Two close associates of Donald Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, were arrested Wednesday on campaign finance violation charges. Last year, they reportedly emerged as major donors to Republican candidates and causes. However, they may have also played a key role as "hidden actors" in Trump and Giuliani's alleged campaign to force the Ukrainian government to stage an investigation of Trump's potential Democratic rival in the 2020 presidential election, former United States Vice President Joe Biden, according to an investigative report by The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
The two men — both born in Ukraine at a time when the now-independent country was part of the former Soviet Union — are Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
Now based out of Florida, they were arrested while attempting to leave the United States at Washington, D.C.'s Dulles Airport on Wednesday and charged in a previously sealed indictment with illegally funneling money from a foreign businessman to Republican candidates, including Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, as The Inquisitr reported.
Their donations also included $325,000 poured into the America First Action SuperPac, a committee that works to promote Trump's re-election in 2020.
But according to the indictment against them, which is available online via The Washington Post, and before they emerged as GOP megadonors, the pair had no history of making U.S. political donations at all.
According to the indictment, the true source of the funds funneled to the pro-Trump superPAC as well as other candidates was a businessman identified in the grand jury document only as "Foreign National 1."The indictment states that the foreign businessman "was not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States," which would make it illegal for him to donate to U.S. political campaigns under federal campaign finance laws.
In addition to being close to Giuliani, who has previously said that Parnas and Fruman are his clients, the pair are close enough to Trump to have dined with him at the White House on at least one occasion, according to a report by USA Today.
According to the OCCRP report, beginning late last year, Parnas and Fruman "introduced Giuliani to three current and former senior Ukrainian prosecutors" for the purpose of discussing supposedly damaging information on Biden. The pair has pursued Giuliani and Trump's purportedly quest to force a Ukrainian "investigation" into the accusations against Biden in numerous meetings that have spanned five countries. The project also involved at least one meeting with Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who is believed to have bilked upward of $5 billion from a major bank in that country.
Kolomoisky is a key supporter of current Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to the OCCRP report. It was Trump's July 25 phone call with Zelensky, in which Trump apparently attempted to leverage military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the "investigation" into Biden, that has now sparked impeachment proceedings against Trump, as The Inquisitr has reported.