Two individuals charged in connection with an alleged scheme to circumvent federal laws against foreign campaign donations pleaded not guilty before a judge in the Southern District of New York on Thursday afternoon.
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David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin — who appeared in court Thursday — were charged along with Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, who have ties to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
(MORE: 2 men with ties to Giuliani arrested on campaign finance charges, bond set at $1M)
Central to the campaign violation scheme were Parnas and Fruman, who were also reportedly working with Giuliani on investigating the president’s political opponent in Ukraine, but only Correia and Kukushin made the initial court appearance in the New York Thursday. The arraignment for Parnas and Fruman has been delayed until next Wednesday.
President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 2019.
Manhattan federal prosecutors at the hearing said they’re expected to turn over “mulitple gigabytes” of evidence that allegedly ties associates of Trump and Giuliani to a scheme to skirt around federal laws against foreign campaign donations and funnel the funds for campaign donations.
Correia’s attorney Jeffrey Marcus and William Harrington declined to comment after the brief court appearance.
Since the indictment, Giuliani has acknowledged receiving $500,000 in payments for work he did with Parnas. Giuliani told ABC News that he was retained by Parnas’ business “Fraud Guarantee” to do consulting work and insisted that any money he took came from domestic, not foreign sources.
Trump has denied knowing Parnas and Fruman specifically, though he is pictured with the two at multiple events. Fruman and Parnas have reportedly played a significant role in helping with Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
The indictment outlines a “foreign national donor scheme” alleging the men “conspired to circumvent the federal law against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates.” The indictment, details how the four defendants allegedly funneled “$1-2 million” from a Russian donor into the U.S. political system between June 2018 and April of this year.
(MORE: Rudy Giuliani’s relationship with arrested men is subject of criminal investigation: Sources)
Additionally, Parnas and Fruman allegedly made a series of illegal straw donations that included a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump Super PAC America First Action, and prosecutors allege that the two violated the law by falsely reporting the origin of those funds as under the name of their newly-created company Global Energy Producers.
The Campaign Legal Center via AP
This Facebook screen shot provided by The Campaign Legal Center, shows from left, Donald Trump, Jr., Tommy Hicks, Jr., Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, posted on May 21, 2018.
In the indictment, prosecutors also outline an alleged scheme by Parnas and Fruman to raise $20,000 for a “then-sitting U.S. Congressman,” who “had also been the beneficiary of approximately $3 million” from America First Action during the 2018 midterms. According to the indictment, Parnas allegedly met with the congressman and sought his “assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine,” Marie Yovanovitch.
(MORE: Former Rep. Pete Sessions subpoenaed in SDNY case of 2 Giuliani associates)
The indictment doesn’t name the congressman, but the description matches ABC News’ reporting that Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, had benefited from $3 million in backing from the super PAC during the 2018 cycle, and that during the same month that Parnas raised funds for Sessions, Sessions wrote a letter calling for Yovanovitch’s immediate removal.
Sessions has since been subpoenaed as part of the Southern District’s probe and he told ABC News that he is fully cooperating with investigators.
Social Media via Reuters
Businessman David Correia appears to pose with President Donald Trump in an undated screen capture from Correia’s social media account.
(MORE: From a controversial phone call to impeachment calls: A Trump whistleblower timeline)
Giuliani is not named in the indictment, but as ABC News has previously reported, the business relationship between the president’s personal lawyer and Parnas and Fruman is the subject of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities in New York, with a primary focus on whether there were any criminal violations of the Foreign Agent Act in Giuliani’s representation of foreign entities.
Fruman and Parnas were arrested last week at Dulles International Airport with one-way international tickets, according to a prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, where Parnas and Fruman face charges. It was later reported that the men had dined with Giuliani in the Trump International Hotel in Washington a few hours before their flight.
Parnas and Fruman appeared before a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia the next day where the judge agreed to a bail package which included a $1 million bond for each defendant, the surrender of travel documents and passports, GPS monitoring and home detention.
As of Wednesday evening, Fruman had met the bond requirements and was no longer in the custody of the Alexandria, Virginia, jail. Parnas remained in custody.
The judge set $1 million bond or $100,000 cash for Kukushkin, who posted the cash alternative. Kukushkin was ordered to turn over his two passports and will be under home detention once he returns to California. Correia, arrested in New York on Wednesday, was released under the same bail conditions set at his first court appearance on Wednesday.
Next court date for Correia and Kukushkin has been set for Dec. 2.